Updated on 15 Jun 2020. Posted on 15 Jun 2020
"Imagine if the police put this much effort into protecting the lives of Indigenous Australians."
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are warned that the following article may contain images of deceased persons.
Miguel Medina / Getty Images, Chandan Khanna / Getty Images, Kenzo Tribouillard / Getty Images
In several cases around the world, statues have already been toppled by activists during Black Lives Matter protests — beginning with the removal of slave trader, Edward Colston, in Bristol, UK.
And in Australia, people have began to discuss the controversial figurehead of one Captain James Cook.
While there are no official records of James Cook owning or trading slaves in the same manner that colonisers in the US did, there is no denying that he paved the way for the oppression, brutality and racism that befell Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for generations.
“There was no slavery in Australia.” Scott Morrison, 11.06.2020. What would you call this, then ?
There are also records of Cook's involvement in the killings of the fist Māori people his fleet met at the Tūranganui River — not far from what is now known as the city of Gisborne, New Zealand.
As well as the long and painful history of indentured labour in Australia, which saw First Nations peoples forced to work for no money under terrible conditions, for hundreds of years.
And despite prime minster Scott Morrison's claims that "Cook was no slave trader", there are many people who believe that statues of Cook serve only as insensitive, callous reminders of the ongoing mistreatment of Blak communities.
Darrian Traynor / Getty Images
The Captain Cook statue in St Kilda, Melbourne, that was vandalised on January 25, 2018.
During BLM protests in Sydney over the weekend, police officers were pictured encircling the statue of James Cook in Hyde Park — clearly in an attempt to dissuade protestors from toppling the monument.
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While protestors were unsuccessful in getting close to the statue, here are 24 of the best reactions to the police force presence there:
So, if you're a woman with children suffering #DomesticViolence, the NSW Police will take a statement and file a report. But if you're a 140yo statue of an English explorer, they're out in force to protect you! #priorities #JamesCook #HydePark #BlackLivesMatterAustralia
Today the WA Government approved the destruction of more ancient Aboriginal sites in the Pilbara to make way for an iron ore mine. Tonight a statue in Sydney of James Cook is under police guard to protect it from demonstrators. That's how little black live matter in Australia
Hey police you're supposed to be protecting PEOPLE, not statues of history's best known racists! 😡 #JamesCook #BlackLivesMatter
The sheer, unabashed irony of a couple of dozen cops protecting the statue of a man who was killed by an angry crowd is causing my humour to become repetitious. #JamesCook #BLmsydney https://t.co/zQEvbtBBdC
Police are seriously guarding Captain Cook statues around the country right now. Incase you had any doubts left about what the role of Police actually is, their being deployed to proactively protect racist statues upholding the white supremacists who invaded should clarify it tbh
In the criminal justice system, offenses against statues are considered especially heinous. In Australia, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Statue Unit. These are their stories. #CaptainCook
While a cabal of far-Right protesters & a circle of police stand protecting at all costs the ephemeral Hyde Park Sydney statue of Captain James Cook, it's only a few days since Rio Tinto wantonly blew up the 'ageless' 46000 year old Indigenous shelters of the Juukan Gorge #auspol
"No reason to remove statues. He's a hero." Calling James Cook a hero is less about upholding our national history and more about upholding a false, one-sided racist narrative around our history which is used to glorify a white coloniser perspective and erase an Aboriginal one.
Police tonight in Sydney’s Hyde Park protecting a *statue* of captain cook. Imagine if they put this much effort into protecting the lives of indigenous Australians. #choices #BlackLivesMatter #captaincooked
See this? Police protection for a STATUE of Captain James Cook, infamous coloniser and thief of Aboriginal land. Where were these “brave men and women” when a 46,000 year old sacred Aboriginal cave was blown up by an Australian mining firm a few weeks ago?
i've always hated that fucking captain james cook statue in Sydney's Hyde park like why the fuck do we have australia's colonizer aka british christopher columbus as a statue?? wtf are we commemorating?? #blacklivesmatteraustralia
Say what you want ...BUT Captain James Cook was a racist & a murderer you can't deny the truth protecting his statue @nswpolice is protecting & supporting this horrendous atrocitie face facts & reality @ScottMorrisonMP #IndigenousLivesMatter
This tweet is for everyone who ever asks me how Australia is doing in regard to #blacklivesmattersydney #BlackLivesMatterAUS the cops are literally protecting a statue of the monster James Cook in droves https://t.co/aFtWMw2RAG
Remember this is just weeks after Australian governments stood back and allowed a 40,000 year old Aboriginal heritage site to be dynamited by a global iron ore company. Priorities. https://t.co/507xcCN341
On the left: Statue of James Cook in Sydney's Hyde Park.
On the right: Juukan Gorge in the Hammersley Ranges of Western Australia — a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site that was destroyed in a blast this month, by mining company Rio Tinto.
The most telling part of tonight’s protest was when we heard the police frantically yell “Go to the statue!” and then rush to surround their precious captain cook. Says plenty about the government’s real priorities.
There is currently a petition to remove the Captain Cook statue in Cairns. You can also keep up to date with BuzzFeed's coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement here.
Saeed Khan / Getty Images
Please stay safe. Speak out against the violence and deaths of Black people in custody. Bla(c)k Lives Matter.