Norman Brewer, Sydney
The campaign calling for the reopening of the inquest into the February 2004 death of young Aboriginal man Thomas "TJ" Hickey was boosted on February 25 by a dynamic community meeting in Redfern.
The meeting, attended mainly by family and friends of TJ and others in the Koori community, exchanged information and further evidence that should be heard by a new inquest. This includes more evidence that the police chased TJ on his bike prior to his death.
Community members, for example, took photos of chopped-off branches of the bushes and trees along the Renwick Street footpath that strongly suggest the police car following TJ was travelling at a high speed. The failure of police to inform the Aboriginal Police Liaison Officers of what the police were doing (which is against official rules), strongly suggests that "the coppers wanted this 'riot' [that took place in Redfern the day after the chase] to happen, in order to draw attention away from what they did to TJ", one person at the meeting commented. Threats that have been made against eyewitnesses were also discussed.
The community agreed that NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr needs to be pressed to re-open or set-up a new inquiry, this time with all the evidence presented, and all the witnesses testifying. The community pledged to thoroughly mobilise people from TJ's hometown Walgett and Redfern-Waterloo.
One of those present at the meeting said: "We're not gonna sit down. We're not gonna shut up until justice is done ... More than 400 Blacks have been killed in custody [Australia-wide], and not a single cop, not a single screw [jail officer] has ever been convicted ... What has the Carr government got to hide? Why the cover-up? Why all this intimidation?"
The community decided to send buses up to Walgett for a memorial rally on March 9 — TJ's 19th birthday — but the buses' main purpose will be to transport the Walgett community to a March 11 march on NSW parliament. The march will highlight Carr's staunch refusal to accept the strong evidence that has been blacked-out and whitewashed from the previous inquiries.
The meeting also agreed to actively support an international rally on March 26, starting at the Redfern Block, to target the cover-up and complicity of the state government. This march will be co-sponsored by the Third Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference, jointly organised by Green Left Weekly and Action in Solidarity With Asia and the Pacific in Sydney from March 24-28. Conference participants from around the country as well as some 50 international delegates will attend the rally.
The community meeting also resolved to produce a statement listing all the evidence in TJ's case that has not yet been addressed officially. This can be found, along with details of the upcoming rallies, at <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Redfern-Waterloo>.
From Green Left Weekly, March 2, 2005.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.