Hundreds protest against Aboriginal deaths in custody


The cry of ‘shame’ has echoed throughout the Roma Street Parklands as several hundred people rallied in protest of Aboriginal deaths in police custody.

For more than two hours, the protestors, who came from a number of tribes across Australia, the Torres Strait Islands and Palm Island, stood and shared their stories of injustice, heartache and sorrow.

Local Brisbane woman Karen Fusi came close to tears as she spoke of the death of her son in the Fortitude Valley police station in 2007.

“They said he jumped out the window, even though he had his hands tied behind his back,” she said.

“How could anyone open a window and jump like that?”

Karen Fusi speaks in memory of her son, Gregory.

Karen Fusi speaks in memory of her son, Gregory.

Ipswich resident Rhonda Collard-Sprat also spoke of police cover-ups.

“We gotta fight this fight right until the end,” she said.

“We want justice. And it’s about time we had it.”

In August, Ms Collard-Spratt’s 22-year-old niece, Julieka Dhu, was arrested by police in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

She was charged with avoiding unpaid parking fines.

Whilst in custody, Ms Dhu’s health deteriorated rapidly and on 4 August she was transported, unconscious, to the Hedland Health Campus.

Despite an hour of intense revival efforts, Ms Dhu failed to regain consciousness.

Several protestors held banners and waved photos of Ms Dhu, sending a clear message to members of Queensland’s Police Force in their headquarters across the road.

Protestors hold banners with pictures of victims Julieka Dhu and Gregory Hart.

Protestors hold banners with pictures of victims Julieka Dhu and Gregory Hart.

“We have no fear of the truth,” said Jenny Munroe, a proud elder whose speech received great applause from her fellow protestors.

“It is part of our culture. Part of who we are.”

Solitary and powerful, Jenny Munroe fills the stage.

Solitary and powerful, Jenny Munroe fills the stage.

Although several inquests, studies and the Hawke government’s 1987 Royal Commission into the deaths of Aboriginals in custody have examined the issue, the protestors were adamant no adequate solution has been reached.

“Our people are up against it from the time that we’re born,” said Darren Williams, whose anger and passion roused the crowd from their sluggish, heat-induced state.

Mr Williams also compared the actions of the Indigenous community to Islamic terrorists.

“We’re not here to blow things up. We’re here to change your hearts and minds.

“The biggest bang is inside.”

The Indigenous community will continue their G20-inspired protests over the weekend with rallies, marches and forums planned for both Saturday and Sunday.


About Author

Aimee Hourigan

In 2016, with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Communication at her side, Aimee Hourigan will take on the world. At least, she hopes to take on the journalism world, reporting on unique global events as a foreign correspondent and cultural documentary maker. For Aimee, the UQ at the G20 project is a chance to refresh and strengthen her storytelling abilities, following her participation in the 2014 UQ in Vietnam project and the Queensland Rural Towns project in 2013.

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