Ciaron | 02.11.2008 23:31
When I was 8 years of age, aboriginal Australians were not citizens of Australia, they did not have the vote. When I was 11, the Queensland state government declared a "State of Emergency" to facilitate the racially selected South African Rugby team to play a game of footy in Brisbane. When I was 13, it was still illegal to cohabitate with a native under the Vagrancy Act, the specific Qld Black Acts were legislation ruling the aboriginal population and restricting their freedom. When I was 17, the state government suspended civil liberties to faciltate the extraction and export of uranium from traditional aboriginal lands.
When I was 22 I went to jail for the first time as a political prisoner - 30% of the jail population in the state were aborigine. There is still not one aboriginal police officer in the state (they had one in the '80's but he was driven out by the imbeded culture of racism in the force!), aboriginal death in custody at the hands of cops and screws were/are not unusual. I have been in custody twice when aboriginal prisoners were killed by staff violence or set up, on another occasion I was in population for the predictable suicide of a minor from Groot on the youth wing. I find myself at 48 with not much changing back at home when it comes to the death of aboriginal prisoners in custody, bureaucatic cover ups, acquitted authority, colonial bravery awards handed out, essential oppression remaining unaddressed.
In 2005 Senior Segeant Hurley became the first police officer, to be charged with an aboriginal death in custody in the history of the state of Queensland following the killing of Mulrunji Doomadgee in Palm Island watchhouse. After several years of fully paid leave while awaiting trial on manslaughter charges (at which he was acquitted) Snr Sgt Hurley has since received a promotion, and is now an Inspector of police working on the Gold Coast.
He received a $100,000 compensation payout from the Queensland Government for property lost in the fire, and his legal bills were covered by the Queensland Police Union, and fundraising efforts by QPS members. Last week, Palm Island local councilor Lex Wotton was found guilty by an all-white Brisbane jury of 'rioting with destruction'. Wotton was convicted in Brisbane in relation to the events in which a police station, adjoining courthouse, a police residence and a vehicle were destroyed by fire that followed attempted white cover up of the killing of Mulrunji Doomadgee.
Doomadgee was a 36-year-old Palm Island man who had been arrested for "public nuisance" by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, the officer-in-charge of the Palm Island police station. Within an hour of his arrest, Mulrunji lay dead on the floor of a police cell, a victim of massive internal injuries, including a ruptured spleen, four broken ribs and a liver that had been 'almost cleaved in two' from a huge compressive force.
A subsequent coronial inquest found that Snr Sgt Hurley was responsible for the death. It also uncovered numerous breaches of procedures by Queensland Police in the ensuing investigation.
The community erupted on November 26 - a week to the day after the death - after they were told at a town meeting than a pathologist's report had found Mulrunji's death was "an accident".
Palm Island Councilor Lex Wotton is presently imprisoned in Queensland being transferred from Brisbane to Townsville for sentencing this coming Friday. In the same week, back in Brisbane, 22 members of the Qld Police Riot Squad will receive "bravery awards" for arresting Lex during their militarised occupation of Palm in the aftermath the uprising that followed the initial cover up of the killing of Mulrunji Doomadgee.
Police claim local councilor Lex Wotton led the riot and he was arrested while his children were present by armed police with dogs at 4am in the morning. He has since been found guilty for 'rioting with destruction'. Wotton's lawyers claim he was the one who called off the riots so police could escape unharmed. He is now being held in custody and awaits sentencing this coming Friday November 7th, in Townsville.
Report from Brisbane
"Free Lex Wotton" Petition http://bushtelegraph.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/free-lex-wotton-petition/
Photo - Solidairty Demonstration Brisbane
Demonstration Aotearoa (NZ) http://indymedia.org.nz/feature/display/71990/index.php#quickcomment