NZ Black Lives Matter organisers respond to backlash

By D'Angelo Martin

The organisers of the Black Lives Matter Solidarity protest that took place in Auckland on Monday received a backlash of complaints from Government calling the protest irresponsible considering the country's current status in Level 2 Restrictions for COVID-19.

Last night in a statement, the organisers say they were overwhelmed with the support from all cultures and identities, saying it was a "safe space for everyone."  

"We appreciate those who had open hearts and acknowledged their own complicity in the oppression of all Black people. Many messages have been received from those who left having learned something and are now called to educate themselves on White supremacy and the systems that reinforce it." 

Those representing the African-American community in Aotearoa expressed their gratitude saying that they had "the opportunity to feel community, love, and hope in these traumatic times."

The organisers also reflected on political comments calling the protest irresponsible, claiming supporters made a mockery of the Alert Level 2 restrictions that Aotearoa still has in place.

Under Level 2 restrictions, no more than 100 people are allowed to assemble in one space but on Monday an estimated crowd of 10,000 people were marching in Auckland's CBD.

"We worked with Auckland Police to reinforce the social distancing message every 5-10 minutes. We handed out masks, had hand sanitiser available and followed contact tracing protocol," the organisers explained.

They also highlighted how important it was to always have a consultation with all local iwi from the start.

"We realise we should have reached out to and involved all local iwi from the beginning. As tauiwi, we have a duty to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi.

"We now understand the importance of engaging the Māori community and are committed to taking the necessary steps to continue with our learning."

They also drew a comparison to what has happened over in the US to what they say exists in Aotearoa.

"The persecution of the Black community. The same White supremacy that has led to the disproportionate killing of Black people in the US by Police exists in Aotearoa today."

The organisers also sent a strong message to the Prime Minister.

"Jacinda Ardern, we are disappointed that you did not condemn the murder of George Floyd. In fact, your tone and dismissiveness have been patronising and condescending. Anti-black racism and White supremacy is real and affect various communities in Aotearoa. Speak up!"