‘Our ancestors were warriors, not gangsters’
Guest speaker Ashley Saltner has delivered a stirring speech to the strong crowd gathered at the Black Lives Matter Rally in Townsville.
Mr Saltner, reading out a statement written by Linda Saltner, said Indigenous Australians had faced oppression for too long, pointing to black deaths in custody as a case in point.
"To us all lives matter, all lives. But in these circumstances, especially in the last 200 years in Australia, there's been black deaths in custody," Mr Saltner said.
"Our culture has been taken away from us, our land has been taken away from us, our social wellbeing has been taken away from us.
"But we've rised up under that over the 200 years. This is black deaths in custody, and this is about everyone."
Mr Saltner said "there's no excuses, black lives do matter and enough is enough" as he pointed to the death of George Floyd.
"Continuing this culture of black deaths in custody and the injustice must come to an end," he said.
"The generational trauma … caused by these continual barbaric acts is a disgrace to humanity.
"In echoing what Floyd's family have asked, they've called for calm, peace, and they will get justice.
"This is a time to let your voice be heard and use your right to vote."
Mr Saltner said police brutality isn't just an issue in the U.S., stating there was a case just recently in Australia.
"While we call for a peaceful rally, police officers in Australia still used unnecessary force in the arrest of a 17-year-old who was not resisting arrest while being detained. And they wonder why there's protests.
"Please put on their badge 'pledging to serve and protect'.
"They bring shame and dishonour to the other officers who work hard to honour their pledge to the community.
"Thanks to those in the police force who are doing their job with honour and empathy."
Mr Saltner took aim at U.S. president Donald Trump, saying his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic was a 'disgrace'.
"This has been a very fragile time for each and every one of us around the world.
"As we have a new war unlike any global war we have seen before. COVID-19 is viral warfare which has affected each and every one of us.
"We are all in this together. Now more than ever the world needs to come together on some common ground and perspective.
"We've never faced a war like this virus, it doesn't see religion or race.
"This so called leader of the free world, Donald Trump, is a disgrace to mankind and humanity.
"Over 100,000 dead in America, buried in mass graves. It's nothing but criminal in itself."
Though Mr Saltner's most important line was left until last and directed at young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
"Just to leave a message out their for our next leaders. Our ancestors were warriors, not gangsters."
Originally published as 'Our ancestors were warriors, not gangsters'