Support for Brewarrina 17


By Steve Painter

SYDNEY — About 150 people attended a June 19 meeting in support of 17 Aborigines charged with riotous assembly over clashes with the NSW Police Tactical Response Group (TRG) in Brewarrina on August 15, 1987.

The meeting was addressed by Arthur Murray and Sonny Bates, released on bail pending appeal against 18-month prison sentences imposed after conviction by an all-white jury.

Both are prominent Aboriginal rights activists, and many witnesses say neither committed any offence. Despite extensive television coverage of the clashes, there is no videotape evidence against Murray or Bates.

At the trials of the 17 in Bathurst, most of the evidence was presented by the police, Sturt-Mitchell University lecturer Tom Ernst told the meeting. "The evidence that was presented seemed to bear little resemblance to scenes that were recorded by the ABC on videotape", he added. Tim Anderson also addressed the meeting, which was organised by the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Watch Committee.

In the past week, the TRG and the Special Weapons Operations Squad have been dissolved and incorporated into the rescue squad following scandals involving the shootings of David Gundy and Darren Brennan. Both men were shot in their own homes during police raids. n