TJ Hickey remembered as the struggle for justice continues

February 16, 2021
Gail Hickey near where her son was impaled 16 years ago. Photo: Linda Casey Kennedy

Gail Hickey, the mother of TJ Hickey, led a march through the streets of Redfern to mark 17 years since her son’s death on February 14.

TJ Hickey was killed while being pursued by police in Redfern in 2004. The young Kamilaroi man was riding his bike when a police car started to pursue him. The police car, driven by then-Constable Hollingsworth, hit TJ’s bike, catapulting him onto a nearby fence where he was impaled.

Contrary to all police protocols, officers pulled TJ from the fence, potentially worsening his injuries. The family has been fighting for justice ever since.

The coronial inquest contained serious errors and multiple omissions, suggesting police corruption and highlighting the inadequacy of the legal system. The Hickey family want a new inquest. Every year they call for one on the anniversary of his death.

Successive NSW governments have refused to bring the responsible officers to court.

The rally, organised by the Hickey family and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), began at TJ Hickey Memorial Park.

The Hickey family delivered powerful speeches: Gail Hickey was in tears speaking about what happened to her son. She accused Redfern police of murdering her son and thanked the crowd for supporting her family for 17 years.

Keenan Mundine, TJ’s cousin and co-founder of Deadly Connections, recalled the night he heard what happened. He was in juvenile detention at the time and, after receiving the phone call, he had to return to his cell to cry.

Mundine also spoke about the life that TJ could have lived if not for the actions of the police. “When I was a 14, I was locked up, but now I am 33 and I don’t have to worry where my next meal comes from, I just get to go home to my family. I know TJ would’ve found something similar.” He also spoke in favour of an independent body to investigate Black deaths in custody.

Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong addressed the police's failure to hold its officers accountable. She claimed they were “responsible for the death and murder of TJ Hickey” and pledged her full support for the campaign for justice.

The Hickey family then led the protest to the Redfern Police Station, which had been blocked off with police cars, fencing, and a significant officer presence.

Protestors chanted “Justice for TJ Hickey” and “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”.

Gail Hickey spoke directly to the Redfern police, asking them to show some empathy for a grieving mother and demanding that they “leave our children alone”. After being blocked by the police on Redfern Street, the rally turned around and marched to Prince Alfred Park, where a barbecue had been organised.

Justice for TJ Hickey and the more than 430 Aboriginal people who have died in police custody since the 1991 royal commission into Black deaths in custody is a vital part of the struggle against systemic racism. The Hickey family are continuing their campaign for the inquest to be re-opened.

[You can support the Hickey family’s campaign for justice by signing the petition here.]

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