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2 Jul 2020 21:04
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  •   Home > News > International

    Australian in New York says she won't be silent anymore, as protests continue over George Floyd's death

    Georgia Frances King has been protesting on the streets for four days' straight and says being a foreigner will no longer keep her from speaking out, as protests continue across the US over George Floyd's death in police custody.

    Australian Georgia Frances King has been living in New York for seven years.

    As an outsider in America, she says she felt it was not appropriate to get involved in some of the deeper issues affecting her adopted homeland.

    But her outlook changed with the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

    And Ms Frances King has spent the past four days protesting on the streets.

    "What I've realised about being a foreigner here is that for too long I used my foreignness as an excuse not to fight for the civil liberties of my neighbours," Ms Frances King told 7.30.

    "I used to say that I wasn't from here and I let that be the reason why I didn't understand, or I said the wrong thing, or I didn't engage.

    "It made me realise that these kinds of issues go far beyond any version of nationality."

    She said if the protests at the beginning were a "cry to arrest the first cop in Minneapolis", they were now a "guttural cry, a primal scream".

    "What are we fighting for? It's not just a to-do list. It's for a wholesale mindset change of a nation."

    'Trump responds to visual things'

    Fellow New Yorker Marcus Morris says people like Ms Frances King are more than welcome at the protests.

    "I think the strength is in the numbers. I think Donald Trump responds specifically to visual things. He went on and on about his own inauguration, so seeing these large crowds will definitely, hopefully, make him take action and treat this case of George Floyd with the seriousness it deserves," said Mr Morris, who is mixed race.

    He grew up in rural Ohio and has always been wary of police.

    "When you're young and black in America you learn really quickly that the police aren't necessarily meant to protect and serve you, even though that's their motto," he said.

    "You learn that you have to obey, even though you know there's injustice.

    "I've always known that the police were someone to be feared in a way that they could take your life."

    'I'm questioning my career and future'

    Australian Vadim Dale has worked as a police officer and detective in Louisville, Kentucky for more than a decade.

    He says the current crisis is making him question whether he should stay there.

    "I knew this was going to weigh heavy on my heart and it has, and it is, and I don't know where tomorrow leads for me," he said.

    "I'm questioning my career and future, and do I bring my family back to Australia and try something new?"

    Officer Dale knew David McAtee, a restaurant owner in Louisville who was shot and killed when police and soldiers were responding to protesters.

    "'YaYa' we called him," Officer Dale said.

    "I'd spent nearly 10 years down there in the West End. Just a super, super nice guy.

    "I can almost guarantee that he wasn't there on either side, he was just trying to sell food. And he'd fed me and some of my partners many a time."

    Officer Dale said he understood the "heartache and the anger directed towards police" across America.

    "I've always understood that. However, the rioting, the looting, the burning, the destructive acts, the violence, the destruction, the criminal acts — I cannot understand that, I cannot fathom that. That's certainly not going to help us get to a resolve," he said.

    As a policeman, he said he had felt the overwhelming distrust from African American communities.

    "It's heartbreaking when someone's looking at you and they've painted you with that broad brush. You're white, you're a cop, you're stereotyped, you're a racist, and you're a piece of you know what," he said.

    "That weighs heavy on someone emotionally vested for over a decade in resolving issues for people in this community."


    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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