several members/supporters have asked about the rally outside the ombudsman’s office on 28/6 and on other matters also so i shall take this opportunity to make comment on the questions asked along with other matters of relevance.
on 6/6 i attended a bail forum at the teachers federation that was strongly supporting the proposed changes to the nsw bail laws being put forward by our attorney-general,greg smith, but being opposed by premier barry o’farrell. i shall have more to say on this matter in an upcoming post as i need to get some documents scanned.
my most excellent comrade, anne duffy-lindsay, had a serious fall that led to her hospitalisation and subsequent passing over at age 90. anne died on sunday 17/6 that was also the nominated national day of ireland. i had had the distinct privilege of knowing anne for at least 25 years of her life we having met at a meeting to construct the aboriginal deaths in custody watch committee back in 1987. i was proud and thankful that i was able to share her life and thoughts.
anne was born in 1922 in an area of pro-ira sentiments and she remained a staunch supporter all her days. at the age of 14 anne, with some other youth, incinerated a british sentry box and that spirit of commitment remained with her throughout her life, whatever her cause. after becoming a registered nurse she then offered her talents, and life, to the war against fascism in spain.
eventually anne’s travels brought her to australia and instantly she recognised the appalling social and racist situation of aborigines when she landed in west australia. her work, both political and in social justice issues, was never-ending and clearly focussed and many hours was spent with her and i solving the faults of capitalism and other matters of social import.
i absolutely consider myself the better for knowing anne and she will be seriously missed by so many. early on in our great friendship i named her, in the sense of working class solidarity and much respect, comrade mother, and to me she will remain so to the end of my days.
at the chapel i stated that it is my belief that when true comrades of stature die then their strength and wisdom is shared by those remaining. i am proud to know that i will continue to carry a small part of anne within me.
on saturday i attended the rally at belmore park that was put on by get-up and others, (perhaps young labor also), the ‘ walk together for refugees’. i left the walk from plt. house to belmore park to others but i had been invited to speak based, i presumed, on my 2 visits to villawood and the tamil/afghanistan asylum seekers. i was to follow ms. linda burney but someone thought that this would not be, perhaps, wise so i was pushed back and back until i became the last speaker on the advertised list. before i had even got into the reason of why i was there i was being waved off stage by those in charge and when i successfully ignored them they actually came on to the stage to shut me up and move me on.
i have no idea who was behind this action that i felt was an insult to myself and to the small crowd remaining to the end of the event but i will now need to be more careful where and for whom i attend and speak.
on 26/6 i attended a group discussion with activists and other concerned citizens relative to the powers of the police especially when interacting with youth regardless of ethnicity. the nsw police already, in my opinion, have enough powers to properly police the community without adding even more draconian laws to their arsenal. most of their powers are abused on a daily basis anyway as will be highlighted later in this report.
the proposed changes, or not, to the bail laws i have mentioned but another totally unnecessary change that is being discussed by the nsw government is to reduce the numbers required to enact a ‘move-on direction’ from 5 people to 2 people! amazing, absolutely amazing. such a backward step will be abused every day by coppers bored to frustration and looking to push their authority into everyone’s face.
greg smith is legitimately concerned about the very high incarceration rates for adult men and women and, more so perhaps, with youth and especially aboriginal youth and yet here is the o’farrell government handing to the nsw police force a method of arresting still more youth. the scenarios of abuse that this will lead to i leave to your knowledge and imagination but it is a weapon that will be used and abused every day in shopping malls, street corners and other public places.
back in the 90’s i believe it was the good people of warringa baiya, a women’s legal service based in marrickville led by ms. cleonie quayle, became extremely alarmed upon the attacks on aboriginal youth and others by security guards and police against those youth gathering in public places. over time the battle was ceased but not by the police and security guards who seemingly still hunger for these powers to continue. young people of whatever ethnicity do gather in groups for many and varied reasons but one reason being that they have the innate right to do so. such practices are eternal and will continue to be so.
as long as their is no criminal activity going on then they have that right to gather as we have all done during our own youth. shopping malls and strips are concerned by the supposed loss of profits from shoppers fearful of gatherings of youth and the security guards are pressured into having the youth removed, some of course volunteer in delight. i am well aware of the tragic death of the security guard at the broadway shopping mall in sydney who intervened with two young children playing to which the parents objected strongly and following a scuffle the security guard fell to his death. such acts though are truly isolated events but it does bring home to us the so-human things that can go wrong. and the changes to the ‘move-on direction’ laws could very well exacerbate these sorts of events. what it most certainly will do is exacerbate the arrest rates of juveniles by testosterone-pumped young men and, similarly, the police.
we know that police everywhere discriminate against certain youth and adults as is shown quite clearly by the police use of warnings, court-attendance-notices (cans) and arrest patterns. statistics show without argument that some receive by far better preferential treatment for their misdemeanours than do people of colour. of course this racist phenomenon is not restricted to either nsw or australia, it is a world-wide thing. our societies still have a long long way to go to eradicate racism and discrimination into oblivion.
now to the rally outside the ombudsman’s office to enforce the call for the nsw government to become active in stopping, or at least seriously reducing, police brutality in all its forms. we also called for the removal of tasers from all front-line police after the torture and tasering death of roberto laudisio curti by 6 police officers and for the criminal practice of police investigating police.
whenever we raised these concerns with the nsw government or the police we were always directed to the office of the nsw ombudsman, bruce balfour, as being the answer to all our concerns as it was his office that did oversee the police investigation and practices to better reflect the public interest. so it was to bruce we turned to seeking clarification of his role and alleged powers.
a perusal of his website showed that in fact as well as in theory his powers as suggested were quite limited to him supplying witnesses from his office to sit-in as observers to the taking of any witness statements by police. and i am quite sure those are the only powers the police would allow him to have. they still maintain absolute and full control of all investigations appertaining to their own regardless of the thoughts of government members or those working for the ombudsman.
i will state here quite publically that this in no fashion can be construed as a personal attack on bruce or any of his staff. it is not as they can only operate within the severe restrictions placed upon them by legislation within the ombudsman’s act. legally, i believe, they have very limited wriggle room within their investigations. the office also can take complaints from inmates but generally these complaints are handed back to the perpetrators of the complaint for a just resolution from police or corrective services. there is much dissatisfaction as to the limited powers of the ombudsman’s office due to the complete under-resourcing of his office and teams.
the day was inclement with showers and a cold wind yet some 40 to 50 comrades and passer-bys stopped to hear the speakers. we had been given a letter of reply to our list of 30 questions in which we were thanked for our interest and that all questions would be seriously considered by him and his teams and answers duly given when available. he was unable to attend our rally due to prior commitments. several speakers from several groups raised their voices in strong support to our three-pronged demands and a wonderful banner was made for isja by bernie and others. we thank all concerned muchly.
we now await bruce’s reply with great interest.
on saturday 30/6 i spent some 8 to 9 wonderful hours at the sydney conservatorium of music listening to a full team of aboriginal and torres strait talent in song, choir, dance and language that just overwhelmed those who were in attendance. rarely do i attend such events but i’m so glad i did not miss this event. the musical items covered pop, jazz, classical, old and young. just a great great day. participants included ms. donna ingram giving a welcome to country and an interpretation of identification to cadigal country that i found somewhat questionable to the ethics of identity to country. after other welcomes we were presented with some historic chants in dharug language (i think) by matt doyle, ms. karen smith,clarence slockee (who has guided tours at the botanical gardens and works there also), richard green (language man, teacher, actor among other talents) and kevin hunt on piano. this was followed by the young team of matt fergo and rapper coby duncan. (they had also appeared at government house during the chat on justice reinvestment). the black turtles band of redfern also performed as did peter mckenzie and a classical composition by chris sainsbury.
this gives but a taste of those incredible artists involved and their offerings but i would be remiss to not mention my old friend, ms. marlene cummins, who shines as brilliantly as ever as she sang ‘pemulwuy’. and yes i admit to much bias in her case. another act of great note was that of the students of the menindee central school accompanied by the menindee ladies’ choir. truly, just a fabulously great day. i am of the understanding that this is to become a yearly event so keep your eyes and ears open for the next one.
on monday 2/7 i had a very interesting meeting with senator for south australia, ms penny wright and her legal affairs adviser, ms shen dycer as we discussed the perceived pluses and cons of justice reinvestment (jr) and how it may change things for the betterment of society and those who are locked up, both adult and youth.
penny showed some enthusiasm for the yet-to-be introduced practice whilst i believe it could work but there would first need to be change brought to the big blue elephant in the room that governments just refuse to see and recognise. yes, the nsw police must be changed in their day to day practices involving youth especially.
it is difficult to assess what the nsw government really has in mind until such time that they produce an issues paper for comment or the legislation in full. i know that attorney-general greg smith has been quite a fan of this project dating back to when he was in opposition but when queried by myself or others as to its practicalities we are not given any answers. i am of the opinion that greg could quite well be having a hard time with him pushing for this to be introduced knowing the negative attitudes to law and order arguments from premier barry o’farrell.
until we are given the bones of the scheme to read it is of little use for us to second guess its contents. we therefore need to concentrate on what changes are required to make the police more for than against the operation of jr. i do not see the current mooted changes to the ‘move-on directions’ law as being in any way helpful to any jr change. that the police practices require urgent attention is well known but it will need the full backing of the government and the opposition to bring that to a successful conclusion. we wait with interest the introduction of such changes.
apropos to the above on jr i have been accepted by criterion conferences who will be holding a conference called,
Reducing Indigenous Youth IncarcerationExploring justice reinvestment & police partnerships to break the cycle
26th & 27th September 2012, Bayview Boulevard, Sydney
Indigenous juveniles are 28 times more likely than non-Indigenous juveniles to be incarcerated. Despite increased investment to reduce this, the problem continues to worsen.
Reducing Indigenous Youth Incarceration will explore new methods for reducing incarceration rates through innovative community partnerships and increasing Indigenous youth aspirations.
they have offered to give a $200 discount to isja members and supporters if they sign up to the conference. my contribution to the event will be based on the ideas put above.
should you wish to know more about the conference then please contact me at the contacts listed below.
that about sums up what isja has done last month so now to what is on the horizon or just matters of interest.
this month we have our usual meeting at the community centre at the block at redfern. this will begin at 7pm in the downstairs meeting room on thursday 19/7 and we welcome all to attend.
next month on the 11/8, the third quarterly national day of action, we will be holding our event from 11am at the redfern community centre.
we have called our event ‘welcome to aboriginal country’ where we will be issuing aboriginal passports to all non-aborigines (we don’t need them) who agree with the statement that recognises aborigines as the true owners of the stolen lands and who want to further recognise the colonisation of the aboriginal nations by the invaders. more on this later in a couple of weeks when we launch the day with a comprehensive media release. we welcome all people of sound and moral mind to that event also.
in september we are attempting to hold a forum on the police use of tasers and other police brutality. more later.
some items of interest that have been brought to my attention.
the first item on the 7.30 report tonight showed 6 so-called “ticket inspectors” of the train service in melbourne ganging up and causing much physical harm to their victim. it is more than obvious that these 6 would-be could-be coppers were spoiling for a cowardly 6 to 1 punch-up obviously to show their authority. they looked like a motley group of thugs in their civvies but this was no show of force to a recalcitrant traveller as the victim spent 12 days in hospital and was offered $225 000 to shut up but the victim wanted justice and his human rights declared in a court of law. and more strength to him. when the victim was marched off the train by all 6 he was then dealt with in a method that would have made every copper proud of the arrest techniques used.
firstly he was thrown to the concrete, rolled on his stomach and then had his face ground into the concrete whilst one or more sat on him thus constricting his breathing even more. this of course is standard practice for the police which makes me believe that it was the cops who trained them. it seems we need to add transit cops/ticket inspectors to the list of those needing public attention. it is pleasing to see that witnesses are willing to come forward to refute these thugs and their lies. these 6 thugs must be sacked as we do not want their type to make further problems. and this lad is a greek-australian so please do not think it could not happen to you.
the second item (thanks cb) is an article in sunday’s sun-herald that reported on more thuggery from transit cops and police from nsw. the victim, michael lindsay, was slow in showing his ticket to the transit cops who took umbrage to his sarcasm and when one of the transit cops objected michael then apologised. this mea culpa proved to be of little acceptability however and the force was called to intervene. 3 cops attended initially to the bus and told michael to get off the bus even though he had found his ticket for the journey. the cops remained true to form when as michael proceeded to walk away constable ryan godfrey drew his taser and shot 50 000 volts into the lower back of michael. the lower back is now considered to be the less lethal area to fire the taser at according to taser inc.,usa.
an ambulance was called and michael was charged with offensive language,resisting arrest and assaulting police! i don’t believe it…..the trifecta lives! still. but the whole thing crumbled into a dung heap of lies when the dpp foolishly took it to court. the concoction of falsehoods, all backed up by the three cops and the 4 transit cops involved to the letter, quickly fell to pieces in the full light of the law and a magistrate who upon seeing the evidence from another bus passenger then implored the dpp not to continue the plethora of lies and ineptitude from those prosecuting the case. the dpp quickly decided that no case was to be found against michael. a form of justice i suppose but more justice is required and miachael is seeking this from the district court to his counter-charges against the transit cops and cops involved for wrongful arrest,false imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution. and more strength to him.
very few of the readers of this report will be surprised as we have known of such criminal actions by those who are expected to uphold the law but who invariably continue to break it in an effort to show their alleged authority. it would also not surprise that the abuse of tasers by the police also continues even though the death of roberto laudisio curti is still fresh in our minds, as are the questions to bruce barbour, our ombudsman. more to look at i would suggest, bruce.
i am sure that many would agree that the 4 transit cops and all the police involved in this assault on the human rights of michael must be sacked, as soon as possible. and please, do not think that what happened to michael could not happen to you because michael is white caucasian. it can and it may and that is why police brutality and lies must be stopped and thugs must be removed from the force and on public transport.
two reports of the very large number of inmates in gaol, and qld. specifically, who have identifiable mental health problems have been sent to me (thanks lf and gn) but i will need to leave these to another post. another friend has posted a report on the tragedy that was the death of kwementyaye briscoe (thanks mo) but that too must wait for the next post.
we do have a post from bruce campbell of the death in custody watch committee (wa) on women inmates in the wa gaol system.
Deaths In Custody Watch Committee (WA) Inc
02/07/12 MEDIA CONTACT FOR DICWC PAUL KAPLAN: 0438 949 898 deathsincustody.org.au
MEDIA STATEMENT – NATIONAL
WA CONTINUES TO MISTREAT PRISONERS BANDYUP WOMEN
THE DICWC (WA) Inc condemns the Western Australian State Government over its ongoing mistreatment of persons in custody. Nearly every week a new outrage is revealed to the public. Unfortunately the most recent issue that of 46 women prisoners sleeping on the floor at Bandyup Prison during the peak of Winter – is the latest in a long line of recent history person in custody abuse issues in Western Australia.
The DICWC acknowledges that society needs to be protected from individuals who pose a serious risk to the safety of the community. But the reality is that our prisons are overcrowded because they are filling up with people who default on fines or who have committed petty crimes due to poverty or drug addiction, so that the WA Government can claim to be “tough on crime”.
Contrary to current calls to build new prisons to house those who commit minor crime or who cant afford to pay their fines, we, the DICWC call for the WA Government to get smart about custodial sentencing, particularly for women who may lose custody of their children as a consequence of a short period of imprisonment.
Surely, WA politicians do not want to see families broken up and children taken from their mothers due to incarceration in cases where the mother lacks money to pay a fine. The answer is not to build more prisons. The answer is to move from a punishment-and-detention focus for non-violent women offenders to community-based management of non-violent offenders particularly mothers who would otherwise be with their children in the community.
Link to original article by Natasha Boddy in the 02/07/12 The West Australian – http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/14100065/women-prisoners-sleep-on-the-floor/
Bruce Campbell, DICWC (WA) Inc Secretary coronation74
thanks bruce for the information as i suspect the situation in all gaols for women in this sad country full of human rights abuses is not much different. please write to the wa government in support of what bruce is calling for.
i know this post is long but please remember some did request portions of it.
should it be seen as long or turgid or otherwise, or worse, of no interest to you then please contact me to remove you from the list.
happy naidoc to all.
indigenous social justice association
(m) 0450 651 063
(p) 02 9318 0947
address 1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017
we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.
sovereignty treaty social justice