A NON-APOLOGY FOR AN ALLEGED NON-COMPLIANCE
a friend asked me yesterday why i had not made any statement appertaining to the hickey march on friday 14th february. i told her that i was waiting for the commander of redfern police station to contact me to arrange a meeting to discuss the perceived problems arising from the march. sadly luke freudenstein has failed to make any contact whatsoever. i personally find this attitude to be most unprofessional. i also needed to hear from the other isja members and supporters of their views of the march and rally.
i do agree that there were some problems over the length of the march beginning with our entrance to the side of redfern police station outside the redfern club. normally this area is fenced off whether by barricades or by police but on this occasion neither were present thus allowing the marchers to swing around in front of the police station itself. no attempt was made to enter the police station itself. the closest we got to that was for our fireman, who was carrying the fire, placing it upon the steps leading up to the police station entrance. we had our speakers and the two minutes silence and then moved on. there was no violence, there were no problems.
under our contract or schedule 1 as it is known, we agreed to have the marchers march down the relative footpath and immediate left lane leaving the other lane free for emergency vehicles. i admit that this became problematic due to the fact of the number of people marching, believed to be up to 200. i was in the sound van and my task was to maintain a sense of order about not crossing out of the left hand lane. because of the numbers however this proved to be a problem and some marchers did stray over the line. even though i continued to call and inform the marchers to move to the left towards the footpath this was not always heard. upon reaching chalmers street there was a fracas about half way down chalmers between an asian police officer and a marcher. the police view was that the marcher had deliberately marched over the line forcing the asian police officer to move him back into the march area. somehow or other, it was alleged, the officer came off his bike and police and protesters rushed to the spot whereby there was a loud request to let the marcher free. things were heated and different versions were swimming around as to what had actually happened but under some negotiation they agreed to release the young man and the march continued. by the time i arrived at the scene it was all over. several of the marchers told me however that that officer was aggressive in his attitude.towards the marchers but i saw nothing as i was in the sound van.
after the three nominated speakers and the two minutes silence was given we then left central to march to the office of the DPP in liverpool street and again had speakers and another two minutes silence and then marched to college street to parliament house. as we were approaching parliament house the senior officer in charge informed me that there was a group of people who were carrying offensive signs. i inquired as to the content of the sign to be told that it was ‘fuck the police.’ i informed the officer that i personally did not find this to be offensive. i later learnt that there was another sign referring to the burning of cop shops. i do not agree with that sign, the tj hickey march for 10 years have been based on non-violence and non-confrontation with the police. it is my view that these signs are carried by a group that have their own agenda and they are not there to support the hickey family in any way.
we continued to parliament house where we were surrounded by up to 100 police and we remained in the car lane and the footpath area outside the house. when the rally and march officially was called off the police swooped in and confiscated the banners and apprehended 2 of the people involved in carrying them. again there was a protest by some of the marchers to that action but most did not become involved. most certainly neither isja nor the family had any involvement in that event.
a personal note. whilst i did not find the first banner to be offensive i found the second banner to be stupid and provocative in its content. to reference the burning of cop shops has only one end in mind and that is to excite the police into action. that is not what the tj marches are about. they are about informing the general public of the true facts of tj’s death, to inform the government of the day that we want justice for tj and also to continue to inform the police that we will never accept their corrupt white-washed version of his death. he was killed as a result of a police chase and nothing will change that fact.
both banners are deliberately used to wind the police up and that does not serve the aims of the anniversary marches. i was and am offended by the attitude of this small group that they can hijack the march to push their own agenda and to take the cops on. as i said, that is not what the march is about. the march is to allow aborigines, in the main, to raise their voices against the ongoing crimes of the police and the state. other agendas show no respect to the hickey family or their cause.
another police initiated concern to us was the police action of cutting in front of our 4 vehicles for the elders thus isolating them from the march itself. this left the 4 drivers open to police harassment from police not recognising that they were meant to be integral to the march itself. this, i am told, happened as we left redfern police station and the burn-cop-shops banner was unfurled. the police cut our elders vehicles off so they could position themselves directly behind that banner which they then ridiculously followed all the way to parliament house! how stupid are they?
it was distressing to both the hickey family and to isja that the media accepted without question the police view of the events without any recourse of asking the organisers of the march for their view. for commander freudenstein to make a public statement that this would be the final tj hickey march based on their own biased opinions, we find to be insulting. it is an open secret that the redfern police with some of their community supporters have been attempting to stop the hickey march for several years. the events arising from last fridays march have been grabbed by the police and mutated into a reason for shutting the march down.
under no circumstances were the family, isja or our supporters guilty of any violent action towards the police. because of an element within the march the police are now saying there will be no further marches. this is totally unacceptable and we put the police on notice that on february 14th 2015 we will be marching. we have done nothing wrong. we complied with schedule 1 and police had the opportunity to remove the banners they saw as being offensive from the march before the march began. that they did not reinforces our argument that they were only looking for a reason to shut the march down and the two banners gave them that opportunity. that the police are uncomfortable at the presence of the march and its language is a given and we do not resile from that action and never will. as i said outside the house whilst they may be offended by the intent of the march and its language, we on the other hand find the killing of our people, especially our youth, to be absolutely offensive and criminal in nature.
we followed to the letter of the schedule 1 agreement every stop we made. there were no other stops included throughout the march. we did err somewhat on time spent at these stops but the quality of our speakers and the designated silences allowed this to occur. i was by no means going to cut short our speakers, some from interstate, to meet a police timeline. i would not show such disrespect to our speakers. i take this opportunity to thank all our speakers who spoke strongly of the cause of justice. i also thank those speakers who travelled from interstate to show their support. i also thank isja-melbourne and the deaths in custody watch committee, wa for their solidarity actions in their home cities. if i have missed other groups that may have organised support in some way i give my sincerest apologies. the anniversary marches are growing, both here in sydney and nationally and we give much thanks and appreciation for that as does gail and the family.
we will march next year and as it will be held on a saturday in 2015 we expect our support to be even more than this year. whether we march with or without a schedule 1 is up to the police but we will march.
indigenous social justice association
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we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.
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Supporters of Aboriginal teen march in Australia’s Sydney