On February 14, I went to the seventh "Remember TJ Hickey" rally at Redfern. TJ Hickey was a 17-year-old Aboriginal boy who was killed in a dangerous police pursuit in 2004.
The state government and the NSW police moved to cover up their role in TJ's death. A coronial inquest exonerated the police involved.
But the inquest ignored important evidence, including witness accounts that said police had chased TJ moments before his death.
To try to gain just a tiny slither of justice from this whitewash, the Hickey family wants a memorial plaque for TJ, and for the many other Aboriginal victims of police brutality in custody, placed at the site of TJ's death in Waterloo.
The police are denying the Hickey family the right to lay the plaque because of its wording, even though the wording comes straight from the coroner’s report.
After attending this emotionally charged rally, where people marched and chanted slogans such as “you say accident, we say murder”, “Justice for TJ” and “Cops are murderers”, I got on the train to go home to Wollongong feeling a bit angry, but also inspired.
I was angry because of the way the police behaved at the rally, but inspired by the conviction of the crowd.
Most disgustingly, one police officer stood at the back of the gathering and filmed the entire event like she was filming some sort of rock concert. Why the fuck is this necessary? I know this is common practice at protests these days, but seriously?
In this instance, the police filming TJ's memorial rally was like a non-convicted murderer coming to film the funeral of their victim. Sick and perverted was what it was.
The amount of disrespect shown by the police at this rally seemed insurmountable to me. But it is not of course insurmountable.
This is just a tiny fraction of the racism, disrespect and brutality that the Hickey family, and the wider Aboriginal community in Redfern, have to put up with from the police daily.
My angry thoughts were interrupted when the CityRail ticket inspectors got on the train to (seemingly) check passengers' tickets.
I got my ticket out diligently (yes, I did actually have a ticket this time) expecting the officers to approach me.
Instead, they went straight to the only non-Caucasian in the carriage and asked her to produce her ticket. She produced her valid ticket then the two inspectors walked straight past several other Caucasian-looking people (including me) without even so much as glancing at us.
This incident confirmed to me what I had learnt that day from the rally: in this country, the uniform of the State somehow lets people wearing it think they have a right to discriminate against people on the basis of the colour of their skin.
Fuck you, police and fuck you, CityRail.