Both sides are blaming each other after an incident that saw Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard rushed out of an event by her security team on Thursday.
Aboriginal rights protester Gwenda Stanley returned a shoe Gillard had lost as she hurried to her car the day before.
“With the authority of the sovereign people of the Aboriginal tent embassy, I stand before you as an ambassador of goodwill. I therefore wish to return the shoe that was left behind in the violent commotion created by your security team,” Stanley said.
About 200 demonstrators marched to the parliament building in the Australian capital Canberra on Friday. The aboriginal rights protesters claim they did nothing wrong on Thursday and that police acted heavy-handedly after a peaceful protest marking Australia Day.
However, the prime minister did not see what took place in the same light.
“I’ve got absolutely no troubles at all with peaceful protests, and generally the tent embassy has been a peaceful protest. What I utterly condemn is when protests turn violent the way we saw the violence yesterday, and particularly disrupting an event which was to honour some extraordinary Australians, did leave me very angry,” said Gillard.
The prime minister had been at an event commemorating Australia Day when protesters supporting indigenous people started banging on the building’s windows. Gillard was hustled out by her security team, losing her shoe in the melee.
Some of Australia’s Aborigines call January 26 ‘Invasion Day,’ because it marks the arrival of the British fleets in the 18th century.