Hundreds turn out for anti-racism protest

An anti-racism rally in Melbourne on February 4.

Hundreds of people attended a rally in Melbourne's CBD on February 4 to protest racist media coverage and treatment at the hands of the police and politicians.

The protest was organised by Sudanese activists in the wake of comments made by federal and state Coalition politicians about a supposed “African youth crime wave”.

The protest, which was endorsed by the National Tertiary Education Union and the National Union of Workers, started at Victoria's State Library.

After speeches by the organisers and other activists, protesters marched through the city with banners and signs displaying “Black Lives Matter” and other anti-racist slogans.

The march halted outside Liberal Party headquarters, where unionists gave speeches expressing solidarity with the Sudanese community and condemning the government's divisive rhetoric.

The march then continued to State Parliament, where there were speeches and performances by musicians, children and poets of African backgrounds.

Speakers at the rally included the South Sudanese Community Association’s Richard Deng; a representative from the Peer Advocacy Program at the Flemington-Kensington Legal Centre; Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam; a representative from the National Union of Workers; a speaker from the Centre for Multicultural Youth; Matt Kunkel of Trades Hall Victoria; and South Sudanese Australian, lawyer, advocate and writer Nyadol Nyuon.

Nyuon told the crowd: “Why am I here today? ... I have three lovely brothers, who, because of the broad definition of what constitutes an African gang, could easily be mistaken for an African gang when they walk together.

“I'm in a gang, my own gang. And you know what my gang's following is? To work, to survive in this land, to do what I want to do.

“I am here today because I want a better Victoria.”

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