Large crowds have gathered across New Zealand to march in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd.
In Auckland, a march through the central city was attended by thousands. In a post-march statement, organisers thanked those who attended and condemned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s silence on the issue.
“We want to reiterate the ongoing epidemic which has seen the consistent persecution of the black community. The same white supremacy that has led to the disproportionate killing of black people in the US by police exists in Aotearoa today.”
“Jacinda Ardern, we are disappointed that you did not condemn the murder of George Floyd. In fact, your tone and dismissiveness has been patronising and condescending. Anti-black racism and white supremacy is real and affects various communities in Aotearoa. Speak up and extend your empathy and kindness to ALL of Aotearoa.”
The march also highlighted issues of racism within New Zealand’s policing and the Arms Down NZ movement. The police have recently been heavily criticized following armed response trials in South Auckland, Canterbury and Waikato, and those opposing the militarization of the police have voiced concerns that Māori and Pasifika communities will be disproportionately affected by such policies. Research demonstrates that Māori are more likely to be responded to with force such as tasers and firearms, while Pākehā are more likely to experience less extreme forms of force. Overall, Māori and Pasifika are much more likely to experience police violence.
Organisers coordinated the march in order to ensure that social distancing protocols were followed as much as possible, and marchers utilised masks and hand sanitiser to reduce the possibility of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
A protest in Cathedral Square in Christchurch last Monday also had large numbers. Dunedin and Wellington marches also took place on the same day. A Hamilton protest is planned for later this week.
Following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, protest has erupted across all 50 US states, some of which have escalated into riots. Numerous reports have highlighted the continued use of violent force by American police during these protests, and use of tear gas and rubber bullets has been widespread. The officer responsible for his death has been charged with second-degree murder, and other officers involved have been charged with aiding and abetting murder.