Black Lives Matter movement striking a chord with Indigenous Australians, says visiting US activist

Updated 19 July 2016, 11:55 AEST

The Black Lives Matter movement has arrived in Australia and is striking a chord with the Indigenous population, says a prominent US activist who is visiting the country.

Tory Russell grew up in Ferguson, Missouri, and is a founder of Hands Up United, an organisation that formed in the wake of the police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in 2014.

He joined a rally in Melbourne on Sunday where about 3,500 people gathered in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following a recent outbreak of racial-fuelled violence in the United States.

“Aboriginal people in Australia … black people in the United States or anywhere in the diaspora — the oppression is here,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“I’m glad to be here and meeting your organisers and really keeping it going strong.

“They were talking about the same issues of detention and incarceration as we have [in the US].”

Mr Russell said he was not surprised to see the movement gain international traction, because the issues were global.

“When you have … a segment of the population that’s not being listened to, not economically being included, and really not being educated or even given the basic human rights … you’re going to see a movement,” he said.

Where to from here?

US Vice-President Joe Biden is currently touring Australia and was in Melbourne on the day of the Black Lives Matter rally.

Mr Russell said the leadership from senior US politicians had been disheartening.

“Joe Biden is probably right down the street somewhere laughing and smiling,” he said.

“Black people are suffering, not only in Australia, not only in the United States, but everywhere.

“Black people not only locally but around the world [need] a seat at the table, and if not a seat at the table, to be able to create their own table.

“[We need to] build a movement that encompasses not only economics but equality and equity inside the system, and also be allowed to have some reconciliation around what happened in the past.”

Mr Russell is in Australia for Monash University’s Castan Centre for Human Rights law conference this week.

He said his address on Friday would include a simple message: “This is an international issue.”


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