Pauline Hanson has labelled George Floyd a “criminal and dangerous thug” while slamming the protests his death by police sparked in Australia over the weekend.
The One Nation Leader addressed the Senate to denounce the Black Lives Matter protests, and the celebration of Mr Floyd, who died in Minneapolis last month after a police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes.
“George Floyd had been made out to be a martyr,” Hanson said. “This man has been in and out of prison numerous times. He was a criminal and a dangerous thug.”
Mr Floyd’s death enraged people globally, as they took to the streets to protest against racism and police brutality.
In Australia, 60,000 people joined demonstrations across the capital cities last weekend.
“It sickened me to see people holding up signs saying 'black lives matter' in memory of this American criminal,” Hanson said.
“I'm sorry, but all lives matter… we cannot allow bleeding hearts and those on the left to destroy the fabric of our society and our freedom.
“No one could possibly condone the way in which George Floyd died. But what upsets me is the attitude of many people – black and white.”
Hanson then focused her anger on those Australians who didn’t show the same outrage when Justine Damond – a white Australian woman –died at the hands of a black officer in Minneapolis in 2017.
“There was no protest, no one really cared because she was white,” Hanson said.
Hanson said politicians should “hang their heads in shame” for not speaking up about the health risks of the protests, which defied ongoing warnings for people not to gather in large groups due to the risk of spreading coronavirus.
“It's a grave insult to all law-abiding Australians. These activists should never have been allowed to march and call Australians racist,” she said.
“Shame on the politicians who were too gutless and too scared of losing votes to stand up to the mob.
“People are furious and I don't blame them. They want to know how this happened when our pubs, clubs and gyms and businesses are still crippled by the full force of COVID-19 restrictions.”
Hanson’s comments prompted backlash on her Facebook page.
“The more you open your mouth the more you reinforce your racist tag. Give us a rest for heaven's sake,” commenter Ken Johnson said.
“Don't speak for me when you say all Australians,” Steven Olive added.
“Nobody protested when Justine Damond was killed because her killer was immediately arrested, charged, & convicted,” Mike King wrote.
The Australian protests linked the death of Mr Floyd to indigenous deaths in custody.
At least 432 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in police custody in Australia since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report in 1991.
This article originally appeared on Over60.