Mass rally shows fury, distrust for police, government

By ERWIN CHLANDA
Our 12 minute documentary video will take you there. Meet the people.

 

The massive rally in Alice Springs yesterday to express anger about the alleged murder of 19-year-old Kumunjayi Walker had few light moments, but Elder Otto Sims, pointing at the Supreme Court building, got bitter laughs when he described it as a replica of the Endeavour, the ship of Captain Cook.

 

What must be the biggest demonstration the town has ever seen was mostly a chilling manifestation of the fury and distrust harboured by Aboriginal people – not only Warlpiri –  for the police, the justice system and white governments generally.

 

What happened on the night of the shooting was taken up in detail by several people close to the events but cannot be reported now that the matter is before the courts.

 

There were angry demands that the accused police officer to be tried outside the Territory, or at least in the Yuendumu community – neither of course being likely.

 

Speakers found it incredible that someone charged with murder has not been remanded in custody –  unheard of for a blackfeller suspect, they repeatedly said.

 

 

It will only add salt to the wounds when people see today photographs of the accused arriving in Canberra, his home town.  The police, its union and – unbelievably – the courts, where the accused was bailed in an out-of-session hearing, are continuing the charade of not naming him, notwithstanding that the national media has been calling him Constable Zachary Rolfe for more than a day.

 

And if the widening collapse of trust amongst Aboriginal people in the Territory’s system of governance requires any further proof, it is provided by the reported trashing last night of the Willowra police station, some 300 kilometres north of Alice Springs.

 

The Gunner government lost the plot when it pulled its entire health staff out of Yuendumu for two weeks over safety concerns, instead of increasing measures for their protection – as much as it takes.

 

Independent Member for Stuart Scott McConnell earlier raised the question: Would the Chief Minister close the hospital, its ambulance service and every single doctor’s clinic in Alice Springs?

 

Our video shows that the government and administration’s performance in the bush will be under the microscope, as Ken Fleming, the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption personally assured the crowd yesterday.

 

He especially raised questions about the health services, as did Federal Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon, while being opposed to another Intervention.

 

That subject came up repeatedly, with Warlpiri woman and former CLP politician Bess Price, seen to represent it, being howled down at the rally.

 

The graphic comment below is from artist Rod Moss. The life-long footy fan was present for the duration of the three-hour long protest – about a third of the crowd was white. Mr Moss says only at footy matches has he seen more people coming together in town.

 

Rod Moss: And Themis Moved Across The Land, 2019. Themis is usually depicted carrying the Scales of Justice. Here they are already missing. 

 

 

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Erwin Chlanda, Editor


12 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Surprised !
    Posted November 17, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Perhaps we could all wait till after the investigation before we judge anyone.
    With regards to the bail, on the presumption that we are innocent until proven guilty and the fact that the accused is unlikely to do a runner nor does he appear to be a threat to society, surely to be released on bail is fair and in accordance with the law.

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  2. Teresa
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 7:48 am

    Thanks for your coverage of this march. I really hope there is justice for this young man.
    I find it inhumane that a family can wait at the front of Yuendumu Police Station for hours and not be told how their son was. Supposed “Aussie fair go” for all Australians. I don’t think so, not when people are treated so badly. I understand the anger!

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  3. Erwin Chlanda
    Posted November 16, 2019 at 4:54 am

    Hi David, please note our report headed “Bush police station broken into, damaged” which also mentions the events in Alice Springs you are referring to.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

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  4. David
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Interesting how you only focused on the rally and not what happened Thursday night when youths damaged businesses and also bashed a man.
    We concentrate too much on rallies and other things but don’t work toward being united as one people in one country.
    All the hatred now out there is dividing our country and I can see no peace between whites and blacks as there is too much mistrust. How sad for our nation. Divided we are now.

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  5. FTP
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I can’t believe that the officer being charged for murder is out in the community on bail!
    Superiority over minority goes right back to 1828.
    For the officer to be housed in the community, out on bail, for the above charge I think we all have a fair idea of what the outcome is going to be for this officer.
    They say that some of those that run organisations are the same that burn crosses. I can imagine how powerless and unsafe people would feel for a non guilty verdict when it comes to trial.

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  6. Beverley Ruth Emmott
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    A comment: We are white but know many Aboriginals. Over the past few days someone (don’t know who) has been chucking used babies nappies into our front yard.
    We live in an NT housing trust house and have been abused by Aboriginals, and their white pals, who think they can take our jobs, possessions, accounts, cars, everything from us.
    They are helped by my white relatives both from my birth family and from my English in-laws who migrated here in the 1960s.
    If Aboriginals want respect or the whites who back them to the hilt want respect, then let them show others respect too.
    I show respect to those who show me respect, regardless of nationality or position.
    It is time this town woke up and started forgetting the skin colour and wealth but remembering we are all human beings and our insides are all the same.
    I have respected those Aboriginals and whites who behave decently but how can anyone respect those who don’t, no matter what their position.
    By the way this information goes on Facebook to so the nation can see what is really happening. It is also going overseas to tell others what this country is actually like.

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  7. Erwin Chlanda
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Please note: As someone has now been charged we will publish no further information that could be regarded as evidence until the matter is heard again in court on December 19, and from that day onwards, we will report only matters of evidence that are raised in open court until it has handed down a verdict.
    ERWIN CHLANDA, Editor.

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  8. Mark J Smith
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks for being in the front line to report on this community statement, Erwin. Very challenging times.

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  9. Ruth Apelt
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks Alice Springs News for the video. It was hard to hear and see everything – so many people there. It’s a great overview.

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  10. James T Smerk
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 10:43 am

    I think you will find it’s more a race issue.
    I as a white person was walking down the mall yesterday and on three occasions got called racist slurs from different groups.
    Having to explain to my kids why this happens and why it is apparently OK is the hard bit.

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  11. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 9:15 am

    “Speakers found it incredible that someone charged with murder has not been remanded in custody – unheard of for a blackfeller suspect, they repeatedly said.”
    Could he have been sent home for his own safety?

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  12. Psuedo Guru
    Posted November 15, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Wait for facts before reacting.

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