Of cops & banners other things

before i get into this post it is most important that you know that mick mundine has had papers served on aunt jenny at the redfern aboriginal tent embassy at the block and that she and those others in attendance there are to vacate ‘his’ land on monday 23/2. it is most important that if you can go there now or go between now and sunday night and stay for the monday eviction actions then i strongly urge you to do so. the block does not belong to the venal charlatan, mick mundine, but to the aboriginal community for the building of low cost accommodation for our elders and families. we must save the block for that purpose and not to enrich mick and his crew of thugs.

attached are the ‘reasons for judgement’ that justice monika schmidt handed down on friday 13/2 when she prohibited the route we wanted to do whilst not banning the march. i have written on the event previously but, to my shame, it had errors in it. substantial errors of fact and judgement.

the first mea culpa goes to les malezer of the congress for the wonderful and totally unexpected letter of support from him that he sent me with full permission to use it in court which i most certainly did. whether it impressed hh as much as it did me is unknown. i thank you, les, for your generosity of spirit in this matter. the support letter can be found below.

the next ommission from my previous post re the tj events was to exclude from the list of speakers cheryl and keith kalfauss who each year travel from melbourne to add their solid support and voice and that of our melbourne comrades. well done

but 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 abboott, 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 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 with, 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 marchers. 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.

much to think about and discuss so come along on thursday night at 7pm at the redfern community centre opposite the block and become a part of the solution.


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

Hi Ray

I wish to give my apology as I cannot attend the rally and march for TJ Hickey this year, as I will not be in Sydney over the days ahead. I would dearly love to attend and expect that I will attend the next anniversary march should one still be necessary.

Regarding the police opposition to the march I am most annoyed to see their efforts to prevent this march and the reasons that they seem to have used to oppose the application.

As a participant in last year’s march and rallies (and coming from Queensland where we fought oppressive restriction on public protest by the Bjelke-Petersen government) I was quite surprised by the provocative actions used by some police officers during the march, and how they targeted certain individuals. It struck me that they were not so much concerned about the safety issues as they were about dominating participants in the style of ‘controllers’ of the march. A few times I was ordered to move towards the side of the road when I was staying within the agreed boundary.

I took offence at the way I was spoken to and, given the emotions of the issue under protest, I felt very much provoked. As this demonstration was about alleged police profiling of an Aboriginal youth leading to his death, I would expect the attending police to be making an effort to exercise exemplary and unbiased behaviour towards the protestors but it seemed to me – bearing in mind I have not previously been engaged in the specifics of the TJ Hickey case or demonstrations – that the police attending the march were acting as if they were in opposition to the protest rather than supporters of the public safety.

I am taking the time to make these statements because I see your explanation in your email of the opposition to the march. In toto I cannot see any reason arising from last year’s demonstrations as to why the police have a case to prevent this year’s march.

I accept that there were a few antagonists in the demonstration and would accept that the police have the capacity to deal with lawbreakers. However the two occasions where I witnessed detention of persons or protest materials I believe the matters were correctly resolved with the release of the persons and materials. These incidents were nowhere near the demonstration of criminal behaviour and were situations of heated emotions which were able to be resolved through calm and rational actions to avoid genuine unruly behaviour.

I might add here that I participated in the Brisbane march over the death of Daniel Yock. That was indeed a heated event and could have resulted in a riot. The police acted professionally and backed away from confrontations when they occurred. I was indeed proud of the way the police refused to be provoked and tolerated by some severe taunts. I am sure the majority of the protestors felt the same way as I did.

The right to protest is the essence of democracy. We know that in cases such as TJ Hickey we are fighting for the cause of justice, and I am yet to hear anyone say that this is not about justice. So no-one including police should interfere in a peaceful march such as this one, recalling that the march route is predetermined and registered in advance. This regulatory action involving the police service is not to control the protest but to ensure the safety of the protestors, more so than to ensure the flow of traffic. I am not familiar with the laws in NSW in this regard but I imagine that public protest can if needed lead to the blocking of roads and traffic in reasonable circumstances. While a march might be seen as an inconvenience by a motorist, it is not the only time they are expected to halt or deviate for a public purpose. In doing there job the police should not be as concerned about the protestors, as they should be about everyone else, including motorists. Can the police identify problems from the last event arising from other parties?

Finally I am happy for my views as contained herein to be made known in any hearing. I hope that my position as Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples might be worthy of some respect by authorities.

Again I am sorry I cannot attend the rally this year and express my sympathy and support to the families of these unresolved cases where our people are racially profiled, leading to their deaths.


Les Malezer
judgement 13 feb 15.pdf

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