Sydney Swans player Lance Franklin wants Australia to turn its gaze inward and confront the issue of how Indigenous people are treated in custody.
As civil unrest rages in the US over the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, the intensely private Franklin has taken to social media to raise awareness of the disproportionate number of Indigenous people incarcerated in Australia.
“Justice for all. What’s happening in the US is happening on our own soil and all around the world. Thoughts and prayers are with George Floyd’s family and all affected by this tragedy and the tragedies before his murder,” Franklin wrote in a post accompanied by artwork from Gamilaroi/Ularoi woman Lakkari Pitt, which reads “Support us when it’s not trending”.
Franklin’s post comes as Hawthorn star Chad Wingard took to social media to lament the treatment of an Indigenous youth who was kicked to the ground during an arrest in Sydney this week.
Wingard had earlier imposed a media ban in protest at the coverage of the events in the US.
Hawthorn captain Ben Stratton says the Hawks are fully behind AFL star Chad Wingard’s work to call out racism in Australia.
Wingard has used social media to express his frustration with a lack of diversity in the mainstream media and the coverage of protests in the USA following the death of George Floyd, along with drawing attention to racism and Indigenous deaths in custody in Australia.
Stratton lauded Wingard’s decision to take a stance.
“Regardless of the issue, it probably takes some balls to speak up and stuff like that,” Stratton told reporters on Wednesday.
“So probably in a world where everything gets judged and speech gets judged, I reckon it takes some balls and good on him, we’re behind him 100 per cent.”
On Monday, Wingard said he would only participate in interviews he was contractually obliged to fulfil and would use his own platforms to share his opinions.
“I dont (sic) trust our media anymore! Until things change i wont be doing any interviews im (sic) not contracted to do! Ill (sic) be sharing my own thoughts and content!” Wingard wrote on Twitter.
Stratton said he was yet to speak to Wingard in person but emphasised the club’s support for the 26-year-old and Hawthorn’s other Indigenous players.
“All we can do is support him and I think a lot of boys have supported him on social channels and stuff like that,” he said.
“So that’s all we can do as a club and we can continue celebrating what the Indigenous boys have given to this game, to this club and we’re lucky enough to have had some crackers over the years here and just to have crossed paths with them – we’re pretty lucky.”
Stratton also highlighted the influence of veteran Shaun Burgoyne on Hawthorn’s playing group.
“Shaun over the years has been a mentor for all players coming into the club but especially those young Indigenous boys,” he said.
“Seeing him work with the young boys that come in to the four walls at the Hawthorn footy club, it’s pretty special the way he goes about it.
“We’ve always had that here – when I first got here we had (Chance) Bateman and Buddy (Franklin) and those boys, they’ve just been so special for this footy club and Shaun’s been a pivotal part in that.”