On Sunday, the streets of a Melbourne suburb where a murdered Irish woman named Jill Meagher had lived were flooded with tens of thousands of people making a peaceful demonstration against violence. After disappearing back on September 22 somewhere between her Brunswick home and a nearby bar, Meagher's body was found on Friday in shallow grave about 30 miles beyond the city limits. A 41-year-old man named Adrian Ernest Bayley has been charged with Meagher's rape and murder.
According the AFP, news of Meagher's disappearance (the result of what is now being described as a "random and opportunistic attack") sparked a wave of fear and outrage across Australia, prompting many Melbourne-area residents to pile up flowers and wreaths outside a bridal boutique where a security camera captured possibly the last images of Meagher alive. Many reeling Brunswick residents attended a candlelight vigil on Friday, and nearly 30,000 from throughout the city showed up for a march across Meagher's neighborhood.
Local mayor John Kavanagh described the community's response as "spontaneous," saying that the random act of extreme violence has left many women in the area questioning their safety. "I feel as though there is a black cloud hanging over our city, particularly the suburb of Brunswick," Kavanagh told the AFP.
The 29-year-old Meagher had moved from Ireland to Australia three years ago with her husband, Tom Meagher, who spoke outside of a courthouse on Saturday, thanking the police and community for their support, and asking everyone on social media to have a little empathy. "And while I really appreciate all the support," he explained, "I just would like to mention that negative comments on social media may hurt legal proceedings, so please be mindful of that." Thus far, any would-be victim blamers have kept their mouths shut.
Thousands march in Australia over murdered woman [AFP via Yahoo]