Members of the Wagga community have expressed their disapproval at comments made by Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack likening last week's assault on the US Capitol to the Black Lives Matter rallies around the world.
Speaking to ABC Radio on Monday morning, Mr McCormack described the violent insurrection at the Capitol that claimed the lives of five people as "similar to those race riots that we saw around the country last year".
The description was met with widespread disapproval, notably from Amnesty International which called for the statement to be "condemned in the strongest terms".
However, Mr McCormack doubled down on his statements when speaking to ABC and 4BC radio on Tuesday.
"I know this is very difficult for the United States as it goes through great change, but you know any form of protest, whether it's a protest over racial riots or, indeed, what we've seen on Capitol Hill in recent days, is condemned and is abhorred," Mr McCormack said.
Speaking to Chris Smith on 4BC, Mr McCormack described Amnesty International's response as "feigned indignation".
"A lot of people get so hurt and upset and, you know, if I've affected their precious feelings, well, I'm sorry," he said.
Wiradjuri man Joe Williams helped organise the Black Lives Matter rally in Wagga during June 2020.
He criticised the comments, saying it was unfair to suggest all of last year's rallies were violent.
"We don't need now to have people of colour condemn these comments [because] everyone knows it was off the mark," Mr Williams said.
"Have a look at the Black Lives Matter rally we had in Wagga. It drew 2000 people [who were] super respectful, non-violent and from all communities.
"People are starting to wake up to the treatment of black and brown people all over the world."
Mr Williams also said that focusing on Mr McCormack's comments distracts from a more compelling question.
"These rallies happened all over the world. If no other world leaders are saying it in the same way, drawing the same comparisons, then it tells me more about the leadership in this country," he said. "The violence at the Capitol had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. That was about equality, what happened at the Capitol that was about democracy."
Local Labor Party member Dan Hayes agreed that there was "no comparison to be made" even if he agreed that "violence is unacceptable".
"There isn't a comparison. One was an attempted insurrection, the other was a march against racism," Mr Hayes said.