Australians widen protests backing Black Lives Matter, indigenous people

Aboriginal elders take part in a traditional ceremony during a Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney, on July 5, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Thousands gathered in Sydney and other Australian cities over the weekend in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and an increased focus on the mistreatment of indigenous people.

A month since Australia's first such rallies, the crowds were smaller amid health warnings about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, as infections grow in the state of Victoria, home to the country's second-largest city, Melbourne.

At the Sydney protest, masks and hand sanitiser were given out and organisers pleaded with people to maintain social distancing.

An ancient Aboriginal ceremony took place, with families of those who died in police custody circled it.

Protests in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Perth and other cities the previous day drew smaller crowds.

The greater global awareness over the treatment of minorities as a result of Black Lives Matter comes as Australia holds an inquiry into mining giant Rio Tinto's destruction of two ancient and sacred Aboriginal caves.

The latest government data shows Australia's indigenous people make up just over 3 per cent of a population of about 25 million.

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