NEWS
06/07/2020 8:37 AM AEST | Updated 06/07/2020 8:51 AM AEST

Thousands Turn Out For Peaceful Black Lives Matter Rally In Sydney

Masks and hand sanitiser were given out at the Sydney event and people kept their distance.

REUTERS
An Indigenous man takes part in a demonstration calling for an end to police brutality against Black people in the United States and First Nations people in Australia, in Sydney, Australia, July 5, 2020. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

Thousands gathered in Sydney and other Australian cities over the weekend in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and an increased focus of the mistreatment of First Nations people.

A month since Australia’s first such rallies, the crowds were smaller amid health warnings about the spread of the coronavirus, as infections grow in the state of Victoria,.

At the Sydney protest, masks and hand sanitiser were given out and organisers pleaded with people to maintain social distance. An ancient Aboriginal smoking ceremony took place, as the 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.

Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: A woman looks on during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Members of the Aboriginal community gather in The Domain to rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Activists walk towards The Domain to rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Protesters demanded justice for the families of people killed in custody and an end to the high incarceration rate of First Nations. Since the royal commission, there have been 437 Black deaths in custody, The Guardian reports.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults make up around 2% of the national population but they constitute 27% of the national prison population, according to the Australian Law Reform Commission 133: Pathways to Justice report. This makes First Nations Australians the most incarcerated people in the world. 

On Facebook, rally organisers stated that they want “urgent moves to release people from prison and have community based solutions.” They’re also campaigning for youth prisons to be shut down and for reforms to child protection policies, as First Nations children are 10.6 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children. 

Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Aboriginal elders raise their arms towards the sky during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: A protester raises his arm in the air during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Activists gather in The Domain to rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Aboriginal elders conduct a traditional smoking ceremony during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Leetona Dungay (R) speaks during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Activists gather in The Domain to rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: People look on during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Young Aboriginal children take part in a traditional smoking ceremony during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Aboriginal elders conduct a traditional smoking ceremony during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: People hold up signs during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: A woman looks on during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Activists gather in The Domain to rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: A man holds up a sign during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: People hold up signs during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Aboriginal elders conduct a traditional smoking ceremony during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: A protester wears a face mask depicting the Aboriginal Flag during a rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: People march past St Mary's Cathedral during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Leetona Dungay is interviewed during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Don Arnold via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: An Aboriginal man looks on during a rally against Black Deaths in Custody in The Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Activists gather in The Domain to rally against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody ended in 1991 there have been over 400 deaths. Rallies have been organised across the country in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement.
James D. Morgan via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Police wear face masks as they watch people gather in the Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
James D. Morgan via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Protestors wearing face masks gather in the Domain on July 05, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. The rally was organised to protest against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody and in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

There are also calls from justice services group Deadly Connections to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years old. The average age around the world is 14. 

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.

Reuters contributed to this report.