On February 14, the family and supporters of TJ Hickey will meet at the park they have named after the young Kamilaroi man, 15 years after he was murdered by the NSW police.
On that tragic day in 2004, TJ was riding his bike in Redfern, unaware of what was going to happen next. Constable Michael Hollingsworth started to pursue him. At the corner of Phillip and George streets, the police car was so close that in the cul de sac between the two towers it rammed the bike. TJ was thrown off the bike and on to the spiked fence.
Against police and first aid protocols, Hollingsworth and a second police officer removed TJ from the fence. From there, the corruption began.
A police rescue vehicle came and was turned away. The ambulance took long time to come, and when it finally did it took TJ to the Prince of Wales in Randwick, not the closest one in Camperdown. TJ died in the Children’s Hospital the next day.
The Coronial Inquiry was rushed. There were so many mistakes and omissions that it can only be defined as corrupt. The NSW government, the police and even the Coroners denied any wrong doing in TJ’s death; they also ignored all the calls for justice.
For 15 years TJ’s mother Gail and family have been campaigning indefatigably for justice. They have been supported by the late Ray Jackson, the Indigenous Social Justice Association as well as many other groups. The pressure on the NSW government has been building. Last year, it announced it would place a memorial to TJ in Waterloo where the police rammed his bike.
This is significant because it is the first time that any NSW government, Labor or Liberal, admitted to having anything to do with TJ’s death. The agreement was that Gail and the family would draw up the design and wording for the plaque and that it would be placed near the tree where the TJ Hickey Park sign has been for 5 years. On February 12 last year, two days before the anniversary of the death, the memorial was suddenly built.
The Hickey family still wants the original plaque which said “TJ Hickey was impaled after a police pursuit and died the next day at hospital” placed at the site where he died.
Their immediate focus, however, is for a parliamentary investigation into TJ’s death. They say the police investigation into themselves and the Coronial Inquiry has left so many questions unanswered and evidence covered up.
They say the only way to get justice for TJ and for Gail and the family is through a parliamentary inquiry. Its findings would be a step towards ending all Aboriginal deaths in custody in this country.
On February 14 at 10.30am at the site where TJ was killed, the Hickey family is again calling on supporters to meet at TJ Hickey Park and march to the NSW parliament where MPs have been invited to hear from the family and to receive a petition which has been signed by more than 10,000 people.
[Raul Bassi is a member of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, Fighting in Resistance Equally and Socialist Alliance. The FB for the march for TJ is here.]