Public meeting in memory of TJ Hickey
How can we stop deaths in custody and hold police to account?
In 2004, Aboriginal teenager, TJ Hickey died as a direct result of police action in Redfern. A decade later, Ms Dhu, a young Yamatji woman died from undiagnosed septicaemia because the South Hedland police thought she was “faking it.”
Both deaths provoked community outrage. Both were preventable and highlight massive systemic issues. And in both cases — and hundreds of others — those responsible have not been held to account.
Why do the police racially profile First Nations people, African youth and other people of colour? How does a young woman end up incarcerated for being unable to pay fines? Why do police facilitate neo-Nazi thugs rallying while dousing anti-fascists with capsicum spray? This public meeting will hear from voices from the front lines who will focus on solutions.
- Maki Issa: Actor with the Flemington Theatre Group, Eritrean born campaigner against racial profiling by the Victoria police and co-winner of the 2014 Young People’s Human Rights Medal.
- Viv Malo: passionate organiser for justice, opponent of deaths in custody, anti-capitalist host of The Black Block on community radio 3CR and proud Gooniyandi woman.
- Alison Thorne: Founding member of the Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne, CPSU union delegate, managing editor of the Freedom Socialist Organiser and anti-fascist activist.
Bring your ideas and join in the discussion about what it will take to hold the police to account.
Thursday 23 February
Doors open 6:30 pm with snacks served for a prompt 7 pm start
Solidarity Salon, 580 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Take the Upfield train to Anstey Station or the route 19 tram to stop 25, Stewart street. Plenty of free parking at the rear – enter from Staley Street.
Organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne
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The coronial inquest into the death in custody of young Yamatji woman Ms Dhu concluded on Friday. West Australian Coroner Ros Fogliani found that antibiotics could have saved the young woman’s life, that police behaviour towards her was “unprofessional and inhumane,” and that she received “appalling treatment” that is “profoundly disturbing to witness.” The coroner also ordered that the CCTV footage from the final days of Ms Dhu’s life be released. This footage was taken between the 2nd and the 4th of August, 2014, at both the police lock-up and the Hedland Health Campus, and shows Ms Dhu’s “catastrophic decline” in health, as well as her treatment by police and hospital staff.
The footage is now available through several media outlets. It is incredibly distressing to watch. What it shows is exactly what her family have said all along that it shows, which is a beautiful young woman being treated with extraordinary callousness and brutality as her health deteriorates. The final moments of the CCTV, taken as she arrived at Hedland Health Campus for the third time has been redacted. This was at the request of her father, and it is indeed possible that in those moments of the footage she is no longer alive. However, activists have pointed out that (if it can be possible) that section of the footage is even more damning than the rest – as it shows Ms Dhu being propped up in a wheelchair while she is certainly unconscious and critically ill and may possibly even be deceased.
Despite the extraordinary abuses that the footage illustrates, despite the fact that she herself admitted that police behaviour was appalling and inhumane and that Ms Dhu’s life could have been saved with the most simple medical care, the coroner failed to recommend that the Director of Public Prosecutions consider criminal charges against those implicated in her death. In fact, although 21 officers were investigated over the death not one lost their job, even more outrageously, two have subsequently been promoted. Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said that he “accepted” that his officers “failed Ms Dhu in this regard,” – however he does not plan to take any further action against the officers responsible.
Anyone who has viewed the footage, however, must be deeply concerned by the prospect of the people it shows treating Ms Dhu with such breathtaking cruelty being put in positions of power over more defenceless people. Aboriginal people in Western Australia are already sharing the video and encouraging friends and family members to memorise the faces of the officers and medical staff involved in the hope that such knowledge might one day save their life. These officers displayed a dangerous level of racism that cost Ms Dhu her future. How can they be trusted with other lives?
ISJA Melbourne joins with Ms Dhu’s family, with the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, with the Redfern Aboriginal Women’s Alliance, with First Nations Liberation and Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, with the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of Western Australia and with countless other activists across Australia in calling for criminal prosecutions to be brought against those responsible for this tragic death. We have seen the footage. The violence, the gross negligence is there for all to see. As Ms Dhu’s grandmother Carol said after the coroner’s verdict, “We still want justice.”
Please join our virtual event for justice for Ms Dhu here.
National Day of Action – 25 Year Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
This Friday 15th of April marks 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It has also been named a National Day Of Emergency because deaths in custody are in fact on the rise in Australia, and actions are planned all over the country
ISJA Melbourne is planning a peak-hour action in the CBD on that day. It will be a coordinated surprise action, and we need as many people involved as possible. If you can be in the CBD at 4.30 pm then please get in touch with us via the contact form and we will give you the details.