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Issue #1666      November 26, 2014

Marchers vent deaths fury

More than 500 Aboriginal people and supporters rallied in Brisbane for the G20 summit to bring attention to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody. The G20 summit is an international meeting of 20 governments of 20 major economies, including Australia.

A chant of “they say justice, we say murder” echoed through the near-deserted and heavily policed streets of the city as the crowd waved Aboriginal flags and banners saying “Australia is a crime scene”.

The group was urged to mobilise against the mistreatment of Indigenous people in custody by Lex Wotton, the man who was once jailed for his role in a riot over the death of Cameron Doomadgee on Queensland’s Palm Island in 2004.

Young people needed to be educated about the struggles of the past, Wotton said.

The family of Redfern teenager Thomas “TJ” Hickey was still waiting for justice more than 10 years after his death in Sydney, his cousin Darren said.

Riots were sparked in the inner-Sydney suburb of Redfern when the 17-year-old was thrown off his bike while trying to escape police, and was impaled on a fence on February 14, 2004.

“We’re here to change your hearts and your minds, because the biggest battle is inside,” Darren said. “If we can change one non-Aboriginal person here to say ‘We’re all in this together’, the media, the police.”

The only way to secure justice was to protest, Aboriginal poet Lionel Fogarty said. “We’ve been struggling for so long to get justice and we’re not getting any justice,” he said.

The march stopped several times to perform traditional dances under the watchful eyes of dozens of police. As the crowd made its way over the Kurilpa pedestrian bridge and arrived in West End, many younger protesters began chanting, “Pigs kill blacks.”

The rally marched into Musgrave Park in South Brisbane, just streets away from the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, the heart of the G20 security operation.

“Today we made history – we made Genocidal 20 history,” protester Ruby Wharton told the crowd in front of a smouldering fire. Wharton, 16, had earlier recalled how her aunty died while in custody west of Brisbane in 2008.

“The police officers were negligent to her health condition and they know damn well that Aboriginal health is on a downward spiral,” she said.

Members of the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network also staged a protest about fossil fuels outside the Brisbane Global Cafe.

Indigenous coordinator for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition Amelia Telford said energy companies were operating in an outdated industry. “Unless world leaders take swift, ambitious steps to reduce pollution from coal and other fossil fuels, they will condemn our generation to catastrophic consequences from climate change,” she said.

Koori Mail

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