March demands justice for TJ Hickey

Protesters at the march for TJ Hickey on February 14. Photo: Peter Boyle.

Protesters gathered in Redfern on February 14, to mark the ninth anniversary of the death of the 17-year-old Aboriginal youth TJ Hickey and repeat the call for an inquest into his death.

In 2005, police pursued Hickey causing him be thrown off his bike and land on a spiked fence.

His family say that instead of waiting for the police rescue unit to arrive and provide the proper medical attention that was needed, TJ was pulled off the spikes and thrown forcefully onto the concrete where he bled heavily. When the rescue unit did arrive, then-constable Michael Hollingsworth sent them away.

TJ died the next morning and a subsequent inquest cleared police of any involvement in his death.

For the ninth time, family, friends and supporters of the Hickey family crowded around the site of the crime to demand justice for TJ and all other victims who have been killed in custody.

Aboriginal activist Ray Jackson explains that a rally should not need to be called again next year, because nine years is too long.  “I am disgusted; we know this country prides itself on justice for all.”

“Everyone around here who saw it was intimidated into silence”, Jackson said. He also spoke about the systematic police corruption during the investigation into TJ’s death. “This is the power that we must break ... too many of our people have died at the hands of police and no police officer has been found guilty.”

Jenny Munro talked about the ongoing police brutality, abuse of power and fear in the community.

“That fear of when someone's going to come knocking at your door and say 'this is what happened to your child at the hands of the police’”.

Munro feels the justice system is no different from 200 years ago. To the government, TJ’s death was “just another cold statistic”, Munro said.

The supporters marched to parliament house with Aboriginal flags held high, letting the streets of Sydney know exactly how they feel about the apparent ‘accident’ of TJ’s death and all other cold death-in-custody statistics. “They say accident, we say murder!”

TJ’s brave and determined mother Gail stood with her family and supporters and handed a petition of 15,000 signatures to attorney-general chief of staff Damien Tudehope.

“I hope you will take a good look at that and I hope you can get my son’s inquest reopened ... I will keep coming back here and I will be fighting till the day I die,” she said.

“They have the petitions, now they have to do something with them”, said Jackson said.

The number of petitions signed is clearly a reflection of people wanting justice for TJ and other victims who have died in custody. It's an unjust system that allows police to get away with murder, and in TJ’s case, issues the officer responsible with a promotion.

Ray Jackson, president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, said 'the rally was magnificent and shows what solidarity between black and white Australians can do.  That the chief of staff of the attorney general has the petitions and stated the minister will treat them seriously is another positive outcome."

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