A clash between protesters and police officers erupted at an “Invasion Day” rally with thousands of people attending it on Australia Day 2017. The march passing through inner-city Sydney witnessed some of the protesters being charged. Police said that the rally was “otherwise a peaceful event” except some of the incidences.
A police officer was injured following which the protest took a chaotic turn with a struggle arising between police and protesters. He was admitted to hospital after an ankle injury. On the other hand, police have also charged a man for setting the national flag alight on Australia Day 2017. Officers used an extinguisher to bring the fire under control.
The man was suspected of burning Australian flag after thick white smoke was noticed coming out of the crowd. The 20-year-old man who tried to burn the flag was taken into custody in the inner suburb of Ultimo on Thursday. He was charged with assaulting police, malicious damage, and resisting arrest. The man is scheduled to appear at the Downing Center Local Court on February 14.
Police, however, said that they were not disappointed with the crowd as their Australia Day 2017 demonstration was a peaceful one. Along with the injury of a police officer, injury of a woman protester also grabbed attention at the march. She suffered a head injury and was also rushed to a hospital.
Authorities’ Reaction on Australia Day 2017 March
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who succeeded Mike Baird only last week, expressed his disappointment on the Australia Day march and its consequences. “We have a democracy and everyone has a right to protest, but today is celebrating everything that brings us together, and I think most people would feel extremely disappointed at what they have seen today,” she said. “It’s not acceptable to do that on a day like today, however please feel free to express your views.”
In addition, Indigenous leader Warren Mundine also condemned the Australia Day 2017 protest. She favored a peaceful and “sensible” discussion instead. “You can have marches, you can have demonstrations, but you don’t go around insulting people and attacking people over this,” he added as quoted by the ABC.