Fears of violent clashes at a major Black Lives Matter protest in Australia has led to its cancellation as similar events are scheduled around the country.
Local activists want to stand in solidarity with those protesting the death of US man George Floyd in Minneapolis while bringing attention to indigenous deaths in custody.
Thousands of people are expected to rally in Melbourne on Saturday while large events are also planned for Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane this week.
But one rally which would have had people march through Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday evening was cancelled due to concerns over the safety of attendees.
“We have had some people intending to wreak havoc and protest against the event,” an organiser posted to Facebook on Monday.
“This event was meant to be a time for Aboriginal voices to be heard but, due to uncertainty of safety for all involved, we would like to (advise) cancellation of the protest.
“Safety is always a priority and it breaks the hearts of everyone involved to have to cancel this event.”
The organisers – Fighting In Solidarity Towards Treaties – redirected people to a Sydney vigil for Mr Floyd on Saturday.
The Australian Communist Party later said it would organise a replacement event for Tuesday at 5pm in Hyde Park.
Some 6600 people have indicated via social media they’ll attend rallies in Melbourne and Brisbane on Saturday.
The organisers – Aboriginal nationalism youth group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance – says the aim is to stop black deaths in custody and express solidarity for Mr Floyd and “the Minneapolis freedom fighters”.
“BLACK LIVES MATTER!” the group posted.
Several events also aim to draw attention to indigenous deaths in custody including that of 26-year-old David Dungay Jnr in a Sydney jail in 2015.
While prone, Mr Dungay repeatedly screamed “I can’t breathe”, to which one officer replied: “You’re talking, you can breathe.”
A coroner in 2019 found the prone restraint was a contributory factor but cleared the five prison officers of malicious intent.