Brisbane Murris protest against police

by Dave Riley
[The sign up for Sam campaign is getting a lot of support each day from far and wide. With one week to go before the poll, we are sure to be able to harness a lot of that commitment to campaigning after the polling booths close]
Brisbane: Members of the Brisbane Murri community and their supporters attended a protest rally and march here on September 1 st. During the same week, the state inquest into the death in custody of Cameron Doomagee on Palm Island on November 19th, 2004 had wound up and the coroner had retired to consider her verdict . But the inquest into Doomagee’s death had been held in a worsening atmosphere of police harassment of local aborigines.

As one young Murri woman told the crowd to applause “Death in custody hurts us as well. It makes them(the police) feel they’re more powerful than us.But we’re here today to show we’re not standing down. We’re young. We’re the next generation. I’m not giving up and hopefully you
won't either.”

Determination has been a key motivator within the local Murri community which has been meeting weekly to coordinate a united response to continuing incidences of police harassment. As the protest organiser , Sam Watson, said , “We are going to continue to have community meetings because the police across inner Brisbane have this practice of official profiling where they stop, terrorise and cross examine aboriginal people on the street. That’s unacceptable.”

Watson also reminded the crowd that this year marked the 40th anniversary of the Gurindji walkoff against the Vestey cattle empire in 1966. This was a strike for fair pay, better living conditions and land rights which. lasted until 1975. May 27th next year, he also pointed out, will be the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum when white Australia voted to finally include the country’s Indigenous population in the national census.

Watson also announced that he was running as an endorsed candidate for the Socialist Alliance against Peter Beattie in the state seat of Brisbane Central.”It’s not incidental, “he said,” that Peter Beattie‘s office is on Boundary St. which served as the boundary where aboriginal people were excluded form the white camp during the early years of white settlement.”

“This is one aboriginal.” he added,” who won’t be excluded.”

Later, Watson came back to the theme of the state election,”We’re in the middle of a state election campaign and there hasn’t been a single mention of indigenous issues here in Queensland, “ he said.

“Peter Beattie has been crowing about this massive 4.5 unemployment rate. He sees that as a proud achievement. But in the aboriginal communities we have a unemployment rate of 85 or 95 percent; we have massive over crowding in our communities; our people are screaming out for houses . On the reserves there is a 5,7, 10 year waiting list .. Our young people don’t have access to a decent education. They have no chance to go to colleges or universities. We don’t have access to a decent health care system. But this day -- eight days out from a state election -- we don’t have one single politician talking about aboriginal issues!”

The speak out heard many individual experiences of police harassment and then marched to Musgrave Park for a cultural celebration.

An audio recording of this event,along with photographs, will be available on this site in the next 24 hours. For campaign updates, visit the SA blog

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