A police officer has been injured and a man arrested after clashes between police and protesters at an Invasion Day march through inner city Sydney.
Marking the growing debate around the date of Australia Day, thousands of people marched through the heart of Sydney’s Aboriginal community, Redfern, on to the city and up to Victoria Park, where the Yabun festival is being held.
Officers used an extinguisher to put out the fire as thick white smoke rose above the crowd and a brief struggle ensued which injured a policeman.
A woman participating in the march also sustained minor injuries. She was treated by paramedics at the scene before being taken to hospital as a precaution.
The police officer has also been taken to hospital for assessment.
A 20-year-old man was arrested and is currently at the Redfern Police Station where he is being questioned.
Police said it was an “isolated incident in an otherwise peaceful demonstration” and overall they were pleased with the behaviour of the crowd. There have been no other reports of injuries.
The violence lasted a few minutes and the march continued safely to Victoria Park.
The Sydney Invasion Day rally just turned violent. pic.twitter.com/F66rQIJ292
— Allan Clarke (@AllanJClarke) January 26, 2017
Protesters labelled the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 as a “day of killing” rather than the birth of a nation.
The crowd, many draped in Aboriginal flags, gathered in Redfern where they heard speeches denouncing the celebration of Australia Day, which many indigenous people call “Invasion Day”.
“It is a national disgrace to have a holiday on Australia Day – a day which marked the beginning of genocide”, organiser Dave Bell reportedly told the Sydney crowd.
Meanwhile, peaceful protest rallies were held in Melbourne and Brisbane.
— Sally Rugg (@sallyrugg) January 26, 2017
– ABC, AAP