An open letter to the Black Rose collective

a personal perspective, without apology.

your actions last saturday, 14 february, 2015, have once again given power to the redfern police to shut down the tj hickey marches entirely.

i do not know your names individually and i have no wish to do so. if that offends you as individuals then it is as nothing to the offence you have caused the hickey family, but especially his mother, gail hickey. great offence.

in my role as the president of isja, i too am extremely offended by what you see as your right to reduce her to an emotional mess by returning to the saturday march/rally with your malice-aforethought and provocative placards and banners. after the problems during the 2013 march/rally we met with some of your representatives so we could hopefully come to a sensible and amicable result. sadly that goal was not obtainable by either participant. it was explained to you, especially by the aboriginal members of isja present, that your continued attendance with your own agenda of ‘giving it to the cops’ was in no way part of the raison d’etre of the tj rally and march.

the rally and march, as clearly defined by myself and ms. hickey, both previously and on the day, is to be as an act of honour, respect and seeking of justice for his death arising from a redfern police pursuit. we are not there to be physically violent with the attendant police. for our safety we rely on police assistance as we march from point a to b or even c. our elders and children deserve at least that.

your actions last saturday came very close to shutting down the whole event at tj hickey park which, i believe, was the plan of the redfern police to realise the statement of the redfern commander, luke freudenstien, last year when he stated to the media on the steps of his police station,”there will be no more hickey marches!’ your actions greatly supported that police aim.

i realise that what i now intend to put on the record will have little if any interest to you, either collectively or as an individual. i however believe it to be important.

last monday i was in canberra for the aboriginal actions set to take place that coming week. at 5.45pm on monday night after the sit-in and 8 of our delegates talking with minister scullion on our demands arising from the aboriginal freedom summit at alice springs last november, i was contacted by a redfern officer, sam crisafulli, informing me that the commissioner of police had rejected our outlined march route and they were taking us to court. he further stated that i needed to present myself at redfern police station or send through documentation of a new route for the tj march by 12 noon on the tuesday. and further, we were to appear in the supreme court in sydney for a mention at 3.30pm on the wednesday to put our case to retain the original march route. he further stated, erroneously, that we were to appear before justice garling on the thursday. in fact we appeared before justice schmidt on the friday.

i arrived in sydney about 4.30pm on the tuesday to try and find somebody to run the case but all our legal friends were tied up elsewhere. i then proceeded to read the information that had been sent to my home email. on wednesday i attended the mention that highlighted that the police could not and did not want to ban the actual march but they opposed our favoured route into the city and they wanted that replaced by the more favoured police-preferred-offered march to the block. their concerns, the police, went to four areas arising from the problems identified in the 2014 march.

concern 1 was the length of the march and the resultant safety issues for protesters, the pedestrians and vehicular traffic. concern 2 was the need for 3 elders cars and one sound van. the third concern was to the possible numbers of marchers present and the fourth concern was the violence from influences outside of isja’s control, e.g.. the banners of the anarchists. whilst all four were looked at on the friday the greater emphasis was on concern 4. as we were leaving the court i was advised that further paperwork would be delivered to my home that night as what had been presented to me thus far did not have the correct official stamps of the court attached.

concern 1 was widened in the court to include the street beggars, the homeless and the sellers of the ‘big issue’!

so there was only one full day for reading and preparation before court on the friday at 10am before schmidt. j. other legal friends assisted as best they could and i thank them muchly for their invaluable assistance. so it fell into my lap to fight for our advertised route from tj hickey park to invasion park at circular quay.

friday saw 4 officers from the crown solicitor’s office, the very same office that supplied john stratton to represent gail hickey in the abernethy inquest at the request of then premier bob carr and then attorney-general bob debus. the outcome of that legal farce is well known. and then there was me. isja had a good many supporters in court and they are free to judge as they will and i thank all for their support and especially to rod and trudy bray who witnessed for isja relative to the police-initiated violence last year.

the crown opened basically with the four concerns above and presented the submission of inspector crisafulli that was full of innuendo, spin and outright lies. isja was presented as an organisation that was feared by both police and the public for our obvious violence and our revolutionary zeal to overturn the governments of australia. in his submission he stated that he had had no actual experience in working with isja rallies over the previous 10 years and he took all his information from the cops event reports after every march. his only real information was from other police officers, including commander freudenstien.

during my examination of him i was able to get him to agree that at no isja march/rally had anybody been arrested, that no one had ever been injured, there had never been any civil damage to any property and for the first 8 years there had never been any incidents. yet still he maintained that if we marched into the city then much damage of some kind would occur

the next police expert to appear was chief inspector cullen who was an expert on crowd crush and other similar experiences. i began by asking him, firstly, did he know me personally or the isja persons present and his reply was no, he had no knowledge of us at all. i then read the following statement in his submission that stated at paragraph 15:

“Over a 4.8 kilometre route the potential for conflict and public disorder is HIGH. I rely also on the previous conduct displayed by assemblies/marches organised by the defendant. Clearly there is an anti-police sentiment attached to this assembly/march and i have absolutely no doubt that elements of this assembly will not only ignore police directions but will deliberately commit criminal offences. Should the Police need to arrest an individual/s i have no doubt that they will be hindered significantly in the lawful course of their duties. I am very concerned that the negative interaction/s of police and participants in this assembly may degenerate to serious public disorder. I am very concerned that injuries will be occasioned to participants, bystanders and Police. Property damage will ensue and significant policing resources would have to be diverted from their normal community policing duties to restore public order.”

this in itself is an indictment of the arguments put forward by all police witnesses to malign isja and to place the full onus of the previous anarchist/police scuffles all on to isja as the signatory of the s1 that is presented to the commissioner. the police make the rules, however outlandish they may be, and there is no option of choice. every time isja has deleted certain points the police put them straight back in.

this statement also however opened the flood-gates of attempting to get me, firstly, to name the ‘outside’ group which i refused to do so, and secondly, to agree with the statement, inter alia, that because i could not guarantee that the ‘outsiders’ would/could return then i could not truthfully state that there would be no violence or return of the ‘outsiders’. a classic catch 22.

the judge found for the police and the city march was prohibited without the march being banned!

on the saturday we assembled at tj hickey park to ready ourselves for the much shorter march to the block. a crowd of some 200 gathered and all was peaceful until a/inspector luke baxter arrived with an unknown police office. luke informed us that we could have our elders cars as they were no longer an issue. we were welcome to stay for up to 20 minutes behind the road divider in lawson street, redfern, behind what we called ‘the cattle fence’ one road lane removed from the public footpath area to the side of the police station. i informed luke that this was not acceptable to our marchers and he merely shrugged.

prior to the attendance of the police, a member of the anarchist group showed me a black flag with the words, ‘cops killed tj.’ personally i had no concerns with it as i and many others had been verbalising the same sentiment for the previous 11 years and in written form also. the female officer ordered me to remove that flag and i replied that i would not as i did not find it offensive. police then removed it and then all hell broke loose in a battle between the cops and the participants. i have no idea what the sign said but it was obviously used by the many many police in the park area in an attempt to contain the rally to the park. gail became extremely upset and an emotional mess at the disrespect from all involved in the banner scuffle. i was almost knocked to the ground and could easily been trampled underfoot from both sides so i pulled back.

we managed to save the day and among the speakers was our good friend, david shoebridge of the nsw greens and a long-term supporter of the tj rallies/marches who stated two obvious points aimed squarely at the police. the first was, again, the observation of the massive over-policing of our marches, nearly a 1:1 ratio this year, and the question of when did the police decide that they were the arbiters of what was offensive or otherwise on a banner or placard? surely such offensiveness should come from the public and not the police?

we  had family members speak and dancers from palm island. we also had cheryl and keith kalfauss from melbourne and the woman who was the aboriginal court support officer during the bogus coronial inquest. all in all a pretty eclectic group to pay respect to tj’s memory. something that is beyond the capacities of the police and the anarchists. if the police are so upset and offended by the anarchists words and actions why are they allowed to join the peaceful rally that we always conduct? there is only one real answer to that and that is that the redfern police are more greatly offended by our annual raising of their crime against tj than any concerns about the anarchists participation, they are but the means to a dishonourable end.

from the fence line at tj hickey park we then marched to the intersection of redfern and regent street where a halt was called. i announced that we were now at a point whereby all participants had to make an individual choice. they could walk to the cattle fence and join us as we marched to the block or we could remain where we were to allow us to march through the alleyway to the front of the police station. i said it several times but nobody moved. luke baxter arrived and told us to move on but i replied that as there was now no s1, no agreement between us, we therefore wished to march our way to the block and not theirs.

a mexican stand-off ensued. luke turned from me and began berating and pressuring gail to accept their route. after a short time, for the second time that day, gail was reduced to tears. i know not what luke said but i do know that breaking gail was, again, a means to an end. we marched behind the cattle fence, had another silence for tj and moved on to the block.

i take full responsibility for the stand-off but not for the actions of the anarchists who deliberately crash our marches and rallies and create chaos. they must stop and recognise that by their actions they are doing the work of the redfern police and how that is advantageous to their collective is absolutely beyond my understanding.

2016, if i am still here, i will put another s1 into the redfern police. it will be rejected by them and another court case will probably ensue whereby i will once more go through the foul process of outright lies, spin and innuendo. but i shall also be legally clubbed with this years action of the black rose anarchists, and the year before that, and the year before that.

on reflection there appears to be a pattern emerging. the anarchists did not come to the death-in-custody march of eddie murray last year. the anarchists did not attend the death-in-custody march of mark mason last year. the anarchists did not attend the invasion day rally and march this year.

they have only attended the death-in-custody march of tj hickey for the previous 3 years. the same marches that the redfern police have fought against us going into the city.

just who is using who?


ray jackson
indigenous social justice association

prix des droits de l’homme de la republique francaise 2013
(french human rights medal 2013)

1303/200 pitt street, waterloo. 2017
61 2 9318 0947
0450 651 063

we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people

6 thoughts on “An open letter to the Black Rose collective

  1. From Anarchists in Australia (fb) page:

    ” I called Ray this morning to enquire what is the deal with this letter. Ray informed me that he himself didn’t recognise those taking part in the scuffle and isn’t able to keep track of who’s in the various leftwing grouplets. After pressing him on what made him believe that Black Rose members took part in the scuffle, he said that prior to the march the NSW police informed him that the “Black Rose Collective” intended to infiltrate the march and inflame anti-police sentiment. He told me the police named Black Rose in the court case denying ISJA their march route. He further said that he was informed by police that Black Rose had caused scuffles at the march last year also.

    I explained to Ray that all of this is police lies, and that such information is not to be trusted. He admitted that his letter may be incorrect and would be willing to release an apology after the matter is clarified at the next ISJA meeting, a week from now.

    In context of his behaviour, I think its kind of ironic that Ray accuses anarchists of being puppets for the cops.”

  2. This is an excert from a followup statement by Ray Jackson regarding the TJ rally incident:

    “the main mea culpa is to unreservedly apologise to all the members of the black rose collective. i acted without reason and merely jumped to conclusions on the day. the banner that was fought over on the day belonged to the members of the trotskyist platform (tp) and whose members have joined our tj marches for years. there was one anarchist flag that was shown to me and when i ok’ed it it was tied to the fence.

    i also made other errors of fact relative to the participation of the anarchists and other left groups in all our rallies and marches but i am not into grovelling. i have publically agreed with my errors and, i believe, it would be far more constructive to move on from here. like the foul abbott, i have listened and i have learned!

    there are several matters that i wish to raise for further discussion and they include police thuggery, banner protocols and my continuation in these events.

    but first some background. for the first eight years we rallied at the fence-line at tj hickey park and marched to the block. in one year we marched to the sydney police centre. through those years we dealt with both commander catherine burn and commander luke freudenstien. even then there were arguments put to actually stop marching, to fix the language problem as they saw it and the odd rumble about ‘offensive banners.’ it was only in years 9, 10 and 11 when we changed our route to either parliament house or the city itself, but that march was foiled, that the police interference has become more physical.

    the police over the last three years have become even more and more over-aggressive each year. they have deliberately over-policed our rallies and marches and been far more macho than was ever required. both commanders have argued over those years that we were demeaning the current redfern police in toto and they were really pissed off with what we were doing and saying. it was also going against the gentrification and good police/community relationships. luke has even had conversations with gail in an attempt to get her to accept the flawed coronial inquest and to change the wording on the plaque so it could then be attached to the fence-line. everything has been tried and gail has stayed strong in her resolve for justice.

    that the redfern cops are becoming more and more irritated and frustrated by our public events goes without question and thus their eagerness to shut us down becomes stronger from year to year. but the simple truth is they cannot legally stop us from marching so it is within their thinking to harrass us into oblivion. in my opinion i reckon they will continue to work on gail. they cannot stop us but they will continue to attempt to contain us.

    we need to look at legal avenues of challenging the police powers, real and imagined, at every turn. that and the legal challenge to the decision of justice schmidt. s25 of the summary offences act needs to [be] taken out to allow all groups to have the freedom of the city as is their right.

    the situation with the banners is really nothing more than a catch 22 for activists. personally i have very few problems with banners, placards and flags that tell the truth of the reason for the rally or the march. some banners are just provocatively ridiculous and it is these banners that the cops use as an excuse to try to shut the march down. conversely, however, there is the real valid argument of our right to free speech. as david shoebridge said at the rally, since when did the cops become the arbiters of good taste? that is for the role of the public to make a complaint and not the police. this needs to be legally looked at also.

    if the police find “fuck the police” to be offensive then why has it been allowed, grudgingly perhaps, over previous years? why is it only now become an active problem? on the trotskyist platform banner that the police objected to last saturday had the following words displayed as described by the tp:

    The police simply charged towards it shouting “that’s offensive” and aggressively grabbed it. The comrades were so shocked and unprepared for this that they simply let go. But then half the crowd at the rally saw what happened and were horrified and so many of these rally participants – including Aboriginal protesters and supporters of various socialist groups – tried to grab the banner back.

    I did not see anyone use any violence against police but the police were very violent and in particular they really roughed up a young white woman protester. When I went to look at what was happening just to make sure people were OK, one cop gave me a big shove and I fell back on my backpack. I had a knee reconstruction last year and was worried because I could feel my knee jar.

    We all felt really terrible that the incident upset Aunty Gail Hickey and our chairwoman Sara apologised to Gail several times afterwards which she accepted graciously. But we had no idea that walking in with the same slogans as last year would lead to this.

    The banner itself had as its main slogan: “JUSTICE FOR TJ HICKEY” which was in by far the biggest writing on the banner and in red colour. Above that main slogan on the banner in black writing was the words leading into it, “Mobilise Joint Action of Aboriginal People, Trade Unions and Coloured “Ethnic” Communities to Demand:” (i.e. to demand “Justice For TJ Hickey”). Above that slogan and leading into it was the slogan in rather small writing, “Unite All Those Targeted By the Same Racist, Rich People’s State That Murdered TJ.” At the very bottom of the banner in black writing and in much smaller font than the main slogan (“Justice For TJ Hickey”) that was just above [it], was the slogan, “Jail the Racist Killer Cops” (i.e. the ones responsible for killing TJ). According to the SBS news report that I saw, the police objected to it because it described police as racist.

    another flag that the police found ‘offensive’ was the anarchist flag that stated “cops killed tj”. i had ok’ed that flag as it was merely stating the truth. the police told me to remove it and i refused as it was a true statement. they removed it.

    it seems that the cops wish to saniitise our messages and that any banner or placard that has the word ‘cop/police’ in it will be removed. i find this a strange and ludicrous situation. since the death of tj 11 years ago i have, as have others, clearly stated both orally and in writing that tj died as the result of a redfern police pursuit. i have loudly stated that the police on police investigation was rorted to whitewash the real evidence and further that the coronial inquest managed by john abernethy was set up only to exonerate the police. i also accuse then-premier, bob carr, and his attorney-general, bob debus, of political interference in the tj event merely to protect the police involved.

    nothing has ever arisen from any of my statements, verbally or in written form, on any death in custody events. why do some words that have been in our rallies for some years suddenly now become a problem? we must do something to stop the police interference with our marches.

    still another problem arises however when our marches are for death-in-custody families. the main reason for the rally and march is to pay respect and to honour the victim. this is best done by having banners and placards that will not excite the police to attempt to break up and shut down the event. yes, it is a form of censorship but it is self-censorship done for the right reasons and to allow respect to the family involved. i know this is a difficult position for some to take but as gail said after the fracas over the tp banner, “this is my son’s day and must be respected by all, including the police.” no violence is wanted and we march as one for tj. that is the subtle difference that must be recognised and accepted by all.

    the other point that needs to be looked at is my physical involvement in future rallies and marches. on that saturday when i finally got to the banner i found myself in the precarious situation because of the to-ing and fro-ing of falling to the ground with the real possibility of being trampled by both sides. i have accepted that my participation in these events is becoming more physically damaging to my health, such as it is. i will, if time and health allows, do the required work for the 12th anniversary of tj’s death on the sunday, 14 february, 2016 but that will be my last as i turn 75 the following month. we need to groom young and savvy aborigines, male or female, to take over the isja role. this will free me from the more physically and active work whilst i concentrate on my other isja works here.

  3. Ray’s full reply is already posted at Of cops & banners other things

    I think people should read the judgement by Schmidt J prohibiting the route and manner in which the march was conducted.

    The Qld Democratic Rights Movement in the late 1970s always refused to apply for permits to march.

    From what I have read in Ray Jackson’s emails which may contain some factual mistakes (don’t we all make such mistakes) but are usually sensible and sound, the police forced Ray and TJ’s family into a position where Ray was pleading before a judge for the right to assemble and march – an accepted democratic right, at least among ordinary people.

    The organisation of the march is a matter for the people who conduct it. That responsibility is a serious one and not to be taken lightly. Clearly Ray Jackson took it very seriously to return from Canberra to plead his case before the court. Such a march takes organisation, and if the march is big, marshalls may be required to protect marchers and banner holders from police and the agent provocateurs that Ray Jackson alluded to in his evidence before the court (but did not name). It seems that none of the anarchist or other left groups were ever seriously considered by the organisers to be agent provocateurs. That role was eagerly taken up by police.

    In his article above Ray states ‘the main reason for the rally and march is to pay respect and to honour the victim’.

    In his evidence before Schmidt J. Ray Jackson expanded on that saying:

    The desire to maximise the publicity which the march will attract, in order to generate understanding of its purpose, namely the pursuit of justice for TJ Hickey and his family and the families of 17 other Aboriginals, who have died in custody.

    It is one thing to appeal for justice (the weakness of any protest) quite another to respect the dead who are casualties of black struggle (as surely TJ is).

    We need to be critical of a reliance upon the corporate media and police.

    To take the easy road and rely upon the authorities is to place yourself at their whim, in a liberal void of lies and doublespeak, and at the mercy of their politics.

    It is not for police to decide whether we march on the footpath or down the centre of the street.

    Especially when it was police who caused TJ Hickey’s death and that of others like Mulrunji, John Pat, Eddie Murray … ! With the level of exposed corruption in the NSW police force it is a wonder even a judge would take their lies seriously.

    I am sure that others like Ray Jackson will step up in the years ahead.

    Thanks Ray Jackson and Jenny Munro and people like you who have stood up.

    Ian Curr
    Feb 2015

  4. 'anarchy and apathy' says:

    From more discussion on Black Rose and TJ Hickey Rally go to Slack Bastard where ‘anarchy and apathy battle it out’.

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