Friday, December 7, 2012

WILLIAM COOPER Re-enactment Walk


William Cooper (1860-1941) was an Australian Aboriginal activist of Yorta Yorta decent. He was also a man who stood up for persecuted Jews.

On 6 December 1938 William Cooper and members of the Australian Aborigines League walked from his Footscray home to the German Consulate in Collins Street, Melbourne. They tried to present a resolution condemning the treatment of Jews on Kristallnacht but were refused.

I was fortunate to witness a re-enactment of this walk on 6 December 2012. It was led by William Cooper's grandson Alf (Uncle Boydie) Turner.

Aboriginal and Jewish Community members were welcomed at the William Cooper Justice Centre in William Street by the Acting Director, Court Services, Jon Cina.

The building 223 William St (on the corner of Lonsdale St) is named after William Cooper. It is part of Melbourne's legal precinct.

William Cooper Justice Centre
© Barbara Oehring 2012

William Cooper's great-grandson Kevin Russell gave a speech to the gathering at the William Cooper Justice Centre.

Kevin Russell
© Barbara Oehring 2012

Alf (Uncle Boydie) Turner then led the party on the walk to Collins Street for a re-enactment of the handover to Germany's Honorary Consul-General in Melbourne, Michael Pearce SC.

Uncle Boydie
© Barbara Oehring 2012


Alf 'Boydie' Turner with copy of William Cooper's petition,
descendants and members of the Aboriginal and Jewish communities
Collins St, Melbourne
© Barbara Oehring 2012

Michael Pearce SC
Germany's Honorary Consul-General in Melbourne
© Barbara Oehring 2012

The German Embassy fully supported the commemoration, Michael Pearce said. "I feel it's been an opportunity to right a wrong from the past".

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