Racism the issue, not youth
In the early hours of April 22, police officers risked the lives of hundreds in Kings Cross by opening fire on the unarmed occupants of a stolen car, shooting the 14-year-old driver twice and a 17-year-old passenger in the neck.
Police then smashed the passenger's head on the road and body-slammed him on the curb, which left him in a coma. Police do not normally shoot unarmed teenagers in the middle of a crowded night spot. But this was different, possibly because the boys were Aboriginal.
Days of racist mainstream media followed while hundreds of people protested throughout the country against government and police racism and economic enslavement of Aboriginal people.
Brisbane’s Aboriginal community held a rally on April 24 outside Queensland parliament to coincide with rallies in Sydney.
Protesters said that the same kind of racist violence was also used against them by Queensland police. During the rally, two officers approached people and asked the protest to move on or they would “call for back up”.
The rally responded by asking why police brought their guns to a peaceful protest. Socialist Alliance Aboriginal rights spokesperson Sam Watson said the Queensland government does not have the right to fly the Aboriginal flag because it does not speak for their community or have consent yet it flies at the Queensland parliament.
Systemic racism exists on all levels of capitalist society and this contributes to the cycle of violence and crime. Despite a drop in crime over the past decade, incarceration rates and deaths in custody have increased dramatically.
Aboriginal teenagers are 28 times more likely to be thrown in jail. The number of jailed Aboriginal people aged between 10 and 17 rose by more than 20% in 2010.
Deaths in custody have risen by about half over the past 10 years in Queensland and New South Wales. The Australian Bureau of statistics said that last year the total prisoner population dropped by 2%, but the number of Aboriginal prisoners rose by 1%. And despite Aboriginal people making up only 2.5% of Australians, one-in-four prisoners are Aboriginal.
The Northern Territory now has the highest proportion of Aboriginal people in Australia living under apartheid conditions. There’s been no improvement in 20 years since the release of the Royal Commission report into Aboriginal deaths in custody and thousands languish in overcrowded housing with little to no access to services.
Since the start of the 2007 Northern Territory intervention, Community Development Employment Project jobs have been cut from 8000 to just 2400 and the remainder are due to be abolished completely in July this year to be replaced with low-paid, mostly part-time jobs.
The government threatens to withhold essential services, housing and health care if Aboriginal communities don't agree to 40-year leases of their land. The uncertainty and community unrest this causes is set to continue as the government plans to entrench intervention laws for another 10 years.
But billionaire mine owners profit from Aboriginal hardship as more and more new mining exploration and extraction projects are launched across the country on top of existing contracts and projects.
Rather than providing jobs and training for Aboriginal people, such as building renewable energy projects, the mine owners lobby government for more, cheaper migrant labour to work in the mines.
Aboriginal people grow up with inferior job options, appalling state-forced poverty and are constantly scapegoated by politicians, the media and police for crime.
The brutality against two teenagers in Kings Cross should be condemned. Too many people that are beaten or die in police custody are young and Aboriginal. These victims need justice, but a police inquiry won't be enough.
Resistance believes self-determination and a treaty signed by the government to put an end to the theft of resources on Aboriginal land are essential first steps to end the systemic racial discrimination Aboriginal people suffer. To fight racism, we need unity. Full justice must be fought for together with all Australians.