National

Unity the key at peaceful Adelaide march

By AAP Newswire

Unity and anti-violence were key themes of a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Adelaide as protesters passionately had their say during a show of solidarity.

More than 5000 people packed Victoria Square on Saturday amid calls for justice over the death of African-American man George Floyd in the US and ongoing concerns over Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Mr Floyd died while being arrested in Minneapolis on May 25.

Speaker Jack Buckskin, a Kaurna and Narungga man, welcomed the large turnout, telling the gathering whether Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, they were all part of the same society.

"This is about us coming together as people," he said.

"Today we stand united. Our movement happens with people."

Others to address the gathering, one of the largest protests in Adelaide for many years, included representatives from the city's African and Muslim communities, as well as visitors from the US, all sharing the same message of unity and integration of races and cultures.

Winston Howard, an African American from Minnesota, the home of Mr Floyd, said the support for anti-racism at the protest was unbelievable.

"Being from America, you don't know what kind of response it will have to people in another country, but seeing this was very overwhelming... the solidarity," he told AAP.

"It feels like something might happen from this, I feel positive that change is happening".

There was a large police presence at the rally and march through the city but Commissioner Grant Stevens had given it an exemption from COVID-19 restrictions on Friday.

"This is a unique and extraordinary event," the commissioner said.

"There is a sentiment that suggests people should have a right to protest on significant matters."

But he also called on them to be mindful of their own health and the health of others amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A large portion of those attending wore face masks provided by volunteers, who also supplied hand sanitiser.

Some wore masks decorated with messages such as "I can't breathe", the last words of Mr Floyd.

As the protest began, many in the crowd tried to social distance, but those on the edges were huddled shoulder-to-shoulder.

Social distancing was also less evident as they made their way down King William Street towards Parliament House before returning to the square.

After the event, police Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey praised the organisers and the crowd for their conduct during the rally.

"We haven't seen any instances of concern, there were no arrests and no injuries," he said.

"But people had a chance to have their say on what is a very topical, emotional and relevant issue in today's society."

Mr Harvey also acknowledged that it was very difficult for such a large crowd to effectively practise social distancing.

"A lot of people did try and I must commend them," he said.