PM Loses Shoe in Australia Day Protest

Julia Gillard stumbles as she tries to pass through indigenous right supporters
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2012 9:42 AM CST
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is escorted out for safety by body guards and police through a crowd of rowdy protesters following a ceremony to mark Australia's national day in Canberra.   (AP Photo/Lukas Coch)
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(Newser) – It sounds perfectly routine: Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott appeared at a restaurant in Canberra today—which just so happens to be Australia Day—to preside over an awards ceremony. What it turned into was an ugly mess, as some 200 supporters of indigenous rights surrounded the restaurant and started banging on the windows. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the scene grew so unruly that Gillard's security decided she needed to be removed from the building. And as some 50 police pushed a path through the crowd to a waiting car, she stumbled and lost a shoe.

The AP describes Gillard as "distressed" but uninjured; she later said she's made of "pretty tough stuff." The Herald says the angry crowd was spurred on by comments Abbott made earlier about it being time the semi-permanent Aboriginal Tent Embassy "moved on." The mess of tents erected in the capital serves as a home base for those protesting Australia Day, which marks the day the first fleet of British colonists landed in Sydney in 1788; many Aborigines refer to it as Invasion Day, a nod to the fact that the land was settled without a treaty. (Read more Julia Gillard stories.)

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