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Issue #1745      August 24, 2016

NT Juvenile Justice Royal Commission

Protests nationwide

Thousands of people took to the streets late last month to protest against the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in detention.

Rallies, marches and protests were held in cities across the nation, with protestors hoping to put an end to the abuse of Indigenous children in detention and deaths in custody.

An ABC Four Corners program last month, showing footage of children being tear-gassed, having spit hoods placed over their heads and being stripped naked at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre in Darwin, sparked the movement across the country, despite the abuses having been widely reported previously by many media organisations including the Koori Mail.

Perth rally organiser Clinton Pryor said there was a sense of solidarity with people marching not just in one city, but all over the country on the same day.

“I was amazed that so many people marched across the country,” he told the Koori Mail. “I think the message got across with the whole country joining together like that, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

In Sydney hundreds gathered to protest. Wiradjuri Elder Jenny Munro spoke powerfully about how fearful she was for the safety of the young children shown to be abused in the footage, and how she holds out no hope of change following a royal commission.

She spoke of systemic racism and the need to fight every battle and not just come out in support of the highly publicised battles being fought by Aboriginal people.

“Allies need to stand beside us always, not just when the cameras are rolling,” she said.

Murri poet and activist Ken Canning spoke at the rally and said he was shocked, along with all of Australia, at the abuse, but reminded the crowd that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been saying this abuse has existed for a long time.

“If you want to see real change and want this abuse to stop, demand change right now,” he said. “All institutions need to be investigated immediately because the abuse is not confined to the Northern Territory.”

Canning called for the release of the abused children and for government to be accountable for undoing the damage to the abused children and called for the Northern Territory government to be sacked immediately.

The peaceful march continued to the law courts in Sydney where the crowd shouted for justice for the Don Dale boys and sacking of the NT government.

The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance organised the rally in Melbourne, which lasted long into the night. About 100 protesters, including three women who locked themselves in a cage, stayed at the Flinders Street intersection until police removed them.

The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance Facebook Page read: “Cops have gone home! We are staying here until Don Dale is shut. We need numbers, support and food. Come down. We are still here.”

Koori Mail

Next article – Close the justice gap – Second Anniversary of Death in Custody of Ms Dhu in WA

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