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Thousands of protesters have gathered in cities across Australia as they prepare to march through the streets demanding Australia Day be scrapped.

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other dignitaries gathered for an Australia Day citizenship and flag-raising ceremony, Indigenous people dressed in traditional garb conducted a ceremony at Garema Place in Canberra before a minute’s silence was held ahead of the march for ‘the warriors before us’.

Stalls and speech tents were also set up at the tent embassy, situated near Old Parliament House.

Helicopters displaying the Australian flag and a low military flyover contrasted with a seas of shirts displaying the Aboriginal flag and statements of Indigenous sovereignty.

Speaking after the citizenship ceremony, federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese said it was important to recognise Australia’s history went back at least 60,000 years.

Thousands of protesters have gathered in capital cities across Australia as they prepare to march through the streets demanding Australia Day be scrapped

Thousands of protesters have gathered in capital cities across Australia as they prepare to march through the streets demanding Australia Day be scrapped

Thousands of protesters have gathered in capital cities across Australia as they prepare to march through the streets demanding Australia Day be scrapped

Crowds are building at an Invasion Day rally in the Sydney CBD (pictured) where thousands of people have been met by a large police presence outside Town Hall

Crowds are building at an Invasion Day rally in the Sydney CBD (pictured) where thousands of people have been met by a large police presence outside Town Hall

Crowds are building at an Invasion Day rally in the Sydney CBD (pictured) where thousands of people have been met by a large police presence outside Town Hall

Protestors were out in force in Sydney on Wednesday (pictured) Australia Day is not a time of celebration for Aboriginal residents across the nation, who often refer to it as Invasion Day

Protestors were out in force in Sydney on Wednesday (pictured) Australia Day is not a time of celebration for Aboriginal residents across the nation, who often refer to it as Invasion Day

Protestors were out in force in Sydney on Wednesday (pictured) Australia Day is not a time of celebration for Aboriginal residents across the nation, who often refer to it as Invasion Day

Scores of people made their way to Sydney's CBD to march against against Invasion Day

Scores of people made their way to Sydney's CBD to march against against Invasion Day

Scores of people made their way to Sydney’s CBD to march against against Invasion Day

Protestors in Sydney (pictured) made their way from Town Hall to Victoria Park on Wednesday

Protestors in Sydney (pictured) made their way from Town Hall to Victoria Park on Wednesday

Protestors in Sydney (pictured) made their way from Town Hall to Victoria Park on Wednesday

‘Which is why one of my priorities will be to recognise First Nations people in Australia’s constitution,’ he told reporters.

‘We should be very proud that we are home to the oldest continuous civilisation on the planet.’

In Sydney, a speaker at the Invasion Day Rally told the passionate crowd now was the opportune time to change the date of Australia Day from January 26.

‘Today’s a national holiday where you’re told to go and have a bbq and a beer…. to celebrate our genocide,’ she said.

‘I pay my respects to all First Nations here, to all of us feeling proud to be here today but yet sad in knowing why we have to stand here.

‘Why do we have to promote our invasion to make sure Australia sees us, to make sure our murders stop, the raping of our women, the stealing of our children, the poisoning of our land and rivers, the denunciation of our languages. It’s disgusting.’

In Melbourne, a statue of Captain James Cook was smeared with red paint overnight.

The statue was found defaced in Catani Gardens, St Kilda in the early hours of the morning, with Victoria Police condemning the ‘absolutely ridiculous’ act.

‘Whilst we understand people have certain views about this day, we always ask people to be respectful and blatant criminal activity like that will not be tolerated,’ Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir told the Today Show.

It isn’t the first time the statue has been targeted. In 2018, vandals wrote ‘no pride in genocide’ on the statue and poured pink paint over Cook’s head.

On January 26 in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip raised the British flag at Sydney Cove and proclaimed British sovereignty. 

The move led to the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from the land they had inhabited for thousands of years before the arrival of the First Fleet. 

Indigenous residents refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day (pictured, protestors in Sydney)

Indigenous residents refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day (pictured, protestors in Sydney)

Indigenous residents refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day (pictured, protestors in Sydney)

A speaker in Sydney said now was time to change the date of Australia Day from January 26

A speaker in Sydney said now was time to change the date of Australia Day from January 26

A speaker in Sydney said now was time to change the date of Australia Day from January 26

Activists also gathered in Canberra (pictured) before a planned march to Old Parliament on Wednesday morning

Activists also gathered in Canberra (pictured) before a planned march to Old Parliament on Wednesday morning

Activists also gathered in Canberra (pictured) before a planned march to Old Parliament on Wednesday morning

In Melbourne suburb St Kilda, a statue of Captain James Cook was vandalised (pictured)

In Melbourne suburb St Kilda, a statue of Captain James Cook was vandalised (pictured)

In Melbourne suburb St Kilda, a statue of Captain James Cook was vandalised (pictured)

Other protestors in Sydney stressed the need for black deaths in police custody to end and that Invasion Day needs to be properly acknowledged

Other protestors in Sydney stressed the need for black deaths in police custody to end and that Invasion Day needs to be properly acknowledged

Other protestors in Sydney stressed the need for black deaths in police custody to end and that Invasion Day needs to be properly acknowledged

Source: DailyMail

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