Blacks slam reconciliation process


By Mick White BRISBANE — Aboriginal leaders slammed the reconciliation process at a summit here last week. On Wednesday, January 31, at a rally at King George Square, protest leaders called for a return to the tactics of non-violent confrontation of the 1960s and 1970s. Two hundred protesters then marched on the Executive Building to present a log of claims to Premier Wayne Goss. The claims included the establishment of a commission into deaths in custody run by Aborigines. Protesters were confronted by a cordon of police barring entry to the building. The premier was in Mundingburra campaigning for the by-election. The doors were locked and the Premier's Office refused to meet a delegation until protesters threatened to storm the building. A delegation of four then met a representative of the premier. After the delegation returned with the news that the premier was unwilling to meet them, bags of red dye were thrown, symbolising the blood of those who had died in custody, splattering the building and police. Three protesters were arrested including Lionel Fogarty, the brother of Daniel Yock, who died in custody in 1993. On Thursday protesters targeted the offices of the family services minister, Marg Woodgate whose responsibilities include Aboriginal affairs. Protest leader Wayne Wharton was arrested as he attempted to push through a police cordon blocking the building. The arrest sparked another salvo of paint bombs. Another three Murris were arrested, and police for the second time in two days read an order cancelling the march permit and ordered protesters to disperse. A protest planned for Friday was cancelled. Protest organiser and Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Legal Services Secretariat coordinator Marshall Bell said "discussion and debate have been highly productive and helped achieve the completion of the forum program ahead of schedule". Bell and other Aboriginal leaders criticised the Queensland Aboriginal Land Tribunal, which they claim has processed only five applications in five years. Bell said the money could be used to set up a state land acquisition fund similar to those in the Northern Territory and New South Wales. "Everything we talk about — deaths in custody, social issues — all comes back to land and the fact that we don't have any", he said.