Australian leader: Capitol attack ‘similar to those race riots’ in US last year

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Australia’s acting prime minister on Tuesday doubled down on his comments comparing last week’s pro-Trumb mob attack on the Capitol to last summer’s Black Lives Matter racial justice protests across the U.S. 

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who is serving as the conservative government’s leader while Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on vacation, said Monday that the deadly riot spurred by President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” was “similar to those race riots that we saw around the country last year.”

According to The Associated Press, Indigenous and human rights groups across Australia condemned McCormack for his remarks, urging the acting leader to issue an apology. 

However, McCormack on Tuesday made several appearances on television and radio to signal he was standing by his remarks. 

“Amnesty International and others — and I appreciate there are a lot of people out there who are being a bit bleeding-heart about this and who are confecting outrage — but they should know those lives matter too,” McCormack told reporters, according to the AP.

“All lives matter,” he added. “People shouldn’t have to go to a protest and lose their life.”

McCormack’s comments continued to draw criticism from advocacy groups, with Amnesty International Australia’s Indigenous Rights Lead, Nolan Hunter, saying McCormack was “continuing to show his ignorance about what Black Lives Matter means and how it affects our mob right here in Australia.”

“Ignorance of the issues that affect Indigenous people in Australia is why we are behind the rest of the world and lock up little children as young as ten, [and] why Indigenous children are 27 times more likely to end up in prison than their non-Indigenous peers,” Hunter said in a statement Tuesday.

Senior opposition lawmaker Chris Bowen also demanded an apology from McCormack, telling reporters that, “Those people around the world who engaged in peaceful protest in the Black Lives Matter movement deserve better than to have the acting … prime minister compare their actions to the violence and thuggery that we saw at the U.S. Capitol last week.” 

“To have the acting prime minister spout the words ‘all lives matter’ to diminish the Black Lives Matter movement was beyond disgusting,” he added.

Five people died amid last week’s chaos at the Capitol, including a woman who was shot by a Capitol Police officer and an officer who died after suffering injuries while responding to the riot. Three others died after experiencing “medical emergencies” near the Capitol grounds.

As racial justice protests spread across the U.S. over the summer following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, many Australians showed their support for the movement through their own demonstrations, which also sought to bring attention to discrimination against Indigenous people on the continent.  

According to Australian government data, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent more than 3 percent of Australia’s total population.

Tags Australia Black Lives Matter Breonna Taylor Capitol breach Capitol riot Donald Trump George Floyd Indigenous Australians racial justice protests The Associated Press

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