The Kiwis behind a Black Lives Matter march in Auckland on Monday are urging others to join them, saying the same white supremacy that resulted in the death of George Floyd is also present in New Zealand.
Auckland hip-hop artists Pharoah Swami and Mazbou Q organised the protest, which is anticipated to be attended by UFC fighter Israel Adesanya, world-famous choreographer Parris Goebbel and several-thousand others.
Arrangements were made for the march last week after footage showed white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground with a knee on his neck for nine minutes while he pleaded for air.
Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder, but Floyd's passing has sparked riots and demonstrations across the US and the globe.
Now, Auckland protest organisers are urging more people to get involved to support New Zealand's own minorities by marching with them from Aotea Square to the US Consulate General on Customs St at 3:30pm on Monday.
"The same white supremacy that led to the disproportionate killing of black people in the US by police exists in New Zealand today," Mazbou Q told Newshub.
"That white supremacy takes the form of the over-representation of the Māori and Pacific community in prison [and] the socio-economic disparity that is prevalent in those groups."
Mazbou Q cited Stats NZ data that shows Māori make up 51 percent of New Zealand's prison population, despite being just 16.5 percent of the total population.
"This is not just an American issue, it's a humanitarian issue, and everyone should get involved. We have a political relationship with the US, and our leaders ought to hold them to account - there's been none of that to date," he continued.
"We need to recognise that as a nation, we consume a lot of black culture… because of this, we believe there is a heightened obligation to highlight issues of injustice faced by that community that we actively benefit from."
Protest organisers say there are three reasons for the march:
- "To display solidarity with the black community in America."
- "To draw attention to the fact we pride ourselves on empathy and kindness, but the deafening silence from the Government and media is not an act of empathy and kindness."
- "The militarisation of our police force will inevitably result in the disproportionate executions of our Māori and Pacific community members."
The final point follows a several months-long trial of an Armed Response Team by the New Zealand Police. Three individuals, all minorities, were shot and killed by police officers during the period of the trial, although not by the particular trial officers.
"These individuals were all people of colour, which sets an extremely dangerous precedent going forward," the Facebook event description reads. "Our Government must roll back this project before more are needlessly killed."
Clarification: This article has been updated to make it clear that the three individuals who died over the period of the Armed Response Team trial were shot and killed by police who weren't trial officers.