Victims of Kings Cross police brutality need justice

Peter Boyle speaking at the April 24 rally protesting the recent police shooting and bashing of two unarmed Aboriginal teenagers

The article below is based on a speech by Socialist Alliance national co-convenor Peter Boyle at the April 24 emergency rally called by the Indigenous Social Justice Association to protest the recent police shooting and bashing of two unarmed Aboriginal teenagers in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

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I read in the newspaper that Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch said: “We have significant responsibilities in the use of firearms. One of them is not shooting at tyres.”

You get that? The police have a responsibility not to shoot at car tyres! But what about shooting unarmed 14-year-olds? What are your responsibilities there, Assistant Police Commissioner?

What about shooting an unarmed 17-year-old Aboriginal youth in the neck and then punching him repeatedly in the head while he could have been bleeding to death on the footpath?

That’s what we saw from the film footage captured by a bystander. That’s what the whole world saw. So what are the responsibilities of the police about this sort of behaviour?

And who is going to investigate this horrible incident? The police? The police investigating the police yet again?

And what sort of justice can we expect from that?

At the very minimum we need a thorough, independent and public inquiry into this.

And the people responsible for this outrage must be held to account.

In the meantime, why do we have to have a society where every policeman and policewoman goes around armed, with guns and tasers that can kill? Guns and tasers that can be, and are, misused because they all have them.

There are countries where most police don’t carry guns. They have an armed response group to be deployed only in situations that require armed police. Why don’t we have that sort of system here in Australia? People would be safer if we did.

This is the very least you’d expect from any society that respects justice.

You’d also expect the reaction of the society as a whole to the shooting and bashing of these Aboriginal teenagers last Sunday to be one of outrage and of anger. That is the normal response of anyone who saw the shocking footage of the incident. That is the normal response of anyone with a sense of humanity and human solidarity.

Instead, in this country we are told not to be angry, not to be outraged. “Bad stuff” can happen if you are in a stolen car, one mainstream media commentator said. Don’t blame the police who are only doing their job. And the politicians mostly echo this message.

Well a lot of “bad stuff” happens to Aboriginal people in this country doesn’t it?

Bad stuff like:

• Aboriginal people are 14.3 times more likely to be put in prison than non-Aboriginal Australians. One in four prisoners are Aboriginal. But they make up just 2.5% of Australia’s population.

Bad stuff like:

• The number of imprisoned young Aboriginal people (between 10 and 17 years of age) increased by more than 20% in 2009-10 compared with the previous year and the average detention rate of young Aboriginal people is 25 times that of young non-Aborigines.

Bad stuff like:

• There have been more than 400 Aboriginal deaths in custody since 1980 — one death in custody a month, or more than 13 deaths a year. Yet less than a third of the 339 recommendations handed down in 1991 by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody have been implemented.

Bad stuff like:

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a life expectancy up to 17 years less than other people in Australia.

Bad stuff like:

• Babies born to Aboriginal mothers die at twice the rate of other Australian babies and experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

Bad stuff like:

• The Aboriginal unemployment rate is about 18.2% — more than three times that for all Australians.

Bad stuff like:

Thirty-one percent of young Aboriginal people live in overcrowded housing. In remote areas, more than half (58%) of Aboriginal children and youth lived in an overcrowded household.

When such a lot of “bad stuff” keeps happening to Aboriginal people in this country, year after year, decade after bloody decade, then you know the problem is not just about “some bad kids” or “their bad parents”. It is a problem of the system, a racist system that needs to be changed.

The politicians tell us they are “closing the gap”. We don’t see that happening. As far as Aborginal people being grossly over represented in the prison system, the gap is growing. And it is growing worse for Aboriginal youth. Their future is looking worse and worse.

We desperately need justice. We desperately need change. But if there is one thing experience should have taught us by now it is that if we want any justice we are going to have to fight for it. So fight for it we must.


Comments

Shooting the tyres wouldn't have stopped the wheels rims from running over the woman pinned under the front of the car, you know.

The police did what was neccesary, and nothing more.

Much of the “bad stuff” you speak of could change of Aboriginals took more responsibility for themselves; they don’t need groups constantly blaming the government and racism for many of the issues they face today and those boys you speak of weren’t unarmed, they were armed with one of the most deadliest weapons in the country, you know a car and if you don’t believe me then why don’t you ask the woman who was hit and pinned under their weapon and speaking of that woman why hasn’t she been mentioned in any of GLW columns about the incident? I guess to do so one would have to acknowledge that those poor downtrodden Teens came very close to killing a person, but then it’s not their fault its racisms fault, white man’s racism and booze and drugs to but we will blame that one the government oh and those criminals who nearly killed a woman tried to avoid arrest when they saw the policing approaching hence why a women was nearly killed and hence why the police fired to stop them from taking of again, you could at least wait for the final report to come out before you play the race, Police brutality, unjust government and blah blah blah card.

Its always necessary to punch and bodyslam people after they've been shot and are bleeding everywhere. I'm sure its the first thing police are taught at the academy.

Am I to take from this useless piece of writing, that police are to blame for the aboriginal child mortality rate? Are police to blame for aboriginal people getting themselves convicted of serious crimes more often than other races? Are police to blame for aboriginal people having a lesser life expectancy? No. They are not to blame. Aboriginals are to blame for their own choices. I know many indigenous people who are lovely people, they go out in public on a daily basis and never once have they been shot at by police, not have they been bashed by police or died in custody, this is because the aboriginals I know are decent people, they are not criminals and they do not put themselves in positions where they need to be arrested, convicted or even spoken to by police. Aboriginal or not, we all face the consequences of our actions, the indigenous community need to stop seeing themselves as "special" and in need of special privileges and start being a pert of functioning society.

Shooting the driver and passenger was no guarantee of stopping the car either. It could have made it even worse.

They don't shoot at tyres, they don't shoot at legs or go for a shoulder shot to negate a threat. The Kings Cross incident required that the vehicle be stopped. Sadly two kids were shot by police who decided that it was ok to use lethal force, a double tap is delivered with intention to kill. It makes me sick to my stomach that persons are even allowed to wear a uniform and carry a gun. Things could have been dealt with differently. The man suffering from mental illness armed with a knife on Bondi Beach some years ago, surrounded by police with plenty of distance ensuring safety of officers. Time enough to take aim and shoot for his legs or to easily shoot him in the shoulder. Instead they chose to execute him and take a deliberate lethal shot.....He died unnecessarily and that was tantamount to government sanctioned murder. An individual who has been shot in the neck and shot in the chest is neutralized, no longer any real threat, especially if it is confirmed that he is not carrying a weapon.
To watch that so-called police officer bashing him after he had been subdued and in full knowledge that he had been wounded by gunshot.....is in my eyes the act of a coward, a gutless thug, a heart full of malice and hatred. Whether the victim be a minor or an adult, no-one should be justifiably treated in such a way, Investigation of police by police is an oxymoron, the sub-culture of police is one that looks after its own. Changes must be made to protect the public from Police who see themselves as judge jury and executioner. Intimidation, oppression, malfeasance, underhandedness, brutality, bigotry, and gung-ho cowboy attitudes and just outright thuggery.
Our politicians need to stop pretending that there isn't a massive problem and create a very real watchdog that we the public can go to with legitimate complaints against police.
There are good cops out there (honest and with a genuine sense of moral consciousness), but sadly many leave the police service because they are unable to come into conformity with the idea that it's ok to twist the law to suit their own ends. The idea that we are above the law, because we are it.................Enough is enough, we.....the people must realize that as long as things remain the same, Justice will not be done, and the Government is responsible. A couple of boys get shot and bashed for all the world to see...........It goes all they way to the top where they milk the cow for everything she's got......Who is the cow.........Us, the public. Democracy, what a joke !

Two bullets in a kid......already subdued with a bullet in his neck, another in his chest. The so-called officer of the law bashing him. And even if he was not a minor, no person in this country deserves to be bashed after he has been subdued and under arrest. ESPECIALLY NOT AFTER HAVING TWO BULLETS PUT IN HIM. That cop was a malicious thug in uniform. And if you think his actions were justifiable then it is my belief that individuals like yourself are as sick as he is.

The number of stupid, racist comments that appear every time GLW runs an article supporting Aboriginal rights is an insight in how deep racism runs in Australian society. To suggest that Aboriginals (or any other race or ethic group) qould make choices to have low life expectancy, high infant mortality, etc, is breathtaking in its offensiveness and stupidity.
Did Aboriginal people choose to have their country invaded and their land stolen? Did they choose to be subjected to genocide? Did they choose to be subjected to generations of child-stealing policies based on the stated purpose of "breeding out" and assimilating the Aboriginal race with the stated aim of trying to make Aborignal people no longer exist? Did they choose to live in a White supremacist society?
That the commenter goes on to suggest that this is "special priviliges" is Nazi-like in its racism.
Racists claiming "some of my best friends are black" is something of a cliché and in the case of the comment above has zero credibility.
I can't claim to know a huge number of Aboriginal people, but you only need to know a few to know lovely people, decent people, who are not criminals and do not put themselves in positions where they need to be even spoken to by police, but are regularly subjected to police harrasment and abuse.

Aboriginals didn’t chose to have their homelands invaded and their children taken away but they do choose to commit crime just like all the other ethnic groups of Australia. Banging on about mistreatment of the past every time an Aboriginal does something wrong something of a cliché from the cultural left because you can’t rap your heads around the fact that even black people can be criminals by their own makings so you need scapegoats you need the white people to blame and that explains why you went on about a range of past mistreatment and atrocities those kids who stole that car and hit a women never went through.

All of Australia bares witness to a so-called officer of the law maliciously bashing a boy in public after he had been shot by police. Sadistic hatred and an overt willingness to inflict suffering and pain to a human being in full knowledge that that human being had two bullets in him, is the act of a criminal. The fact that he/they wear uniforms should not exempt him, or anyone who behaves like him, from criminal prosecution to the full extent of the law. We must all watch very closely how the Police Dept undertakes it's investigation, what's to investigate? The whole world saw a psychotic cop venting his hatred on a victim. Yes the recipient had broken the law, but the overt brutality in a public place and the delusions of grandeur that lead them to believe they can do whatever they like is sickening. If in instances they sometimes behave like this in public, then there is no doubt in my mind that people in custody behind closed doors are abused both physically and psychologically. Police officers or not, those types of individuals are no better than the criminals they purport to capture, worse in fact, they are trash, they hide behind the uniform and gives them the opportunity on a daily basis to get their jollies off by standing over people and inflict violence when they think they can get away with it. The Police Force is rife with these types. Nothing will be done regarding the cop who did the bashing, probably given a token slap on the wrist and transferred to somewhere quiet. That's how it usually goes. In my opinion cops are no better than the public, and should be subject to prosecution just as the public is..........Do cops have immunity ? There is no acceptable excuse why that cop should not be charged for a criminal offense. Question is what would the charge be for bashing a person who has just been shot twice, once in the neck, once in the chest. Any further attempts to cause further damage could be seen as an overt attempt to kill that person. It makes me feel a sense of hopelessness that a nation would watch this madness unfold and our government sits on its ass and pretends it's ok for a member of the public to be treated in such a way. He was in custody, and no prisoner should be treated in such a way. By Law prisoners have rights too. What occurred was a blatant infrigement of that lads human rights. Neanderthals in uniform, of obviously limited intellect should be weeded out of the police force. Psychological Profiling of individuals during initial cadet training, would weed out those who have abberated intentions and reasons for becoming police officers in the first place. The Police Area Commader will give a token investigation for the benefit of the media and public.......But to be sure, if at all possible nothing will be done. That criminal will be allowed to remain in the police force.

Look people the issue deals with the fact that all of us, indigenous and non indigenous peoples of this country have to deal with police who believe that they are a force unto themselves. More specifically in this case the NSW police force. We will never succeed in achieving anything if we cannot unite and come together as a general public. This is not about race, it's about the fact that police shot, and then brutalized a member of the public. I generalize by saying police plural, why? Because none of his mates stopped him from bashing a lad with two bullets in him.....so it seems there is an agreed upon reality that it is perfectly normal behaviour for police to bash people. So please lets not get into the poor fella me bit. Even though the indigenous community has cause for the way they have been treated, this is not the place for grinding that axe. We have a government that is lives in fear of the public, they hide behind the Federal and domestic Police, and the police suffer from superiority conceit and are generally in contempt of the public. The police will continue to press for more powers and will never be happy until they have total control of our lives. These problems effect everyone, and intimidation, brutality and thuggish attitudes projected by police is a serious issue. Ultimately it is the Government who are responsible for allowing the situation to go on as it is, and it is we, the people who must stand together and say enough is enough. Police brutality whilst in custody, either in public or behind closed doors is criminal activity. The public needs a police body and watchdog to police the police.....with powers of arrest and possibility of imprisonment for offenders. It must stop.......Take our case to the UNITED NATIONS......Human Rights Abuses investigated by the body responsible for those abuses is a SHAM. And our government knows it......and if they know it then they are complicit. So lets try to focus on what needs to be done and stop trying to turn this thing into a racial thing..........it's not.

the subject of my post is what needs to be addressed.
A bullet into someone driving a car that is being used as a weapon when the car will not stop...well, sometimes that is what it takes.
shooting tyres out works in movies...
I am sick of people making this something about racism....it was a crime.
The police did possibly not act in the best fashion....but they did stop the car and that was what was needed to be done.

Could have made it worse....but did not.

I guess the majority of this publication's audience would like to draw a link between the above mentioned "bad stuff" is due to racism and a lack of targeted policy.

Have you ever considered that the dire situation of aboriginal disadvantage is a result of positive discrimination - flawed policies which while well intentioned, underestimate the natural individualist tendencies of humans?

This afternoon I watched on my CCTV as four adult Aboriginal men tried to smash into my business, which sells alcohol, at 10.30pm last night, while a 3 year old boy stood with them trying to help them break in. Later in the night they broke into a random house, stole some stuff and set a small fire. Oh I forgot, on camera you can see the 3 year old holding the petrol can, taking turns with his elders sniffing from the can.

Last week an aunty told me she had to stop her son trying to rape her 4 and 6 year granddaughters. She chased him out of the house with his pants around his ankles.

I am not racist, I belong to a minority in a small country town. But there are wider issues responsible for these actions. It is not as simple as everybody is racist because we LET things happen in our communities. On the other hand what choice does that 3 year old boy have? What choice do those girls have?

Racism had nothing to do with this particular incident. It is irrational to claim that it did.

If the writer of this piece is the kind of person who makes up the 'Socialist Alliance' then it is no wonder that the socialist movement in Australia is such a failure.

I think it is disgraceful that this Peter Boyle is tainting socialism in this country with ridiculous claims such as these.

Ignorant and irrational people are of no use to a socialist movement. A new generation of socialists is coming and we will set things straight.

Two girls were run over, one dragged ten metres and seriously injured.

Peter Boyle didn't have that guts or decency to mention them - or their injuries.

Are they to be regarded as just collateral damage?

Oh my goodness, it really does sound like there needs to be a complete investigation here. The law of police not being able to shoot at tires but yet there is no investigation when a kid is shot seems really strange.

 

It seems that more expansions are coming and if there one place that throws big protests then other parts of the world will too but this policeman needs to be investigated.

Any decent person would also be concerned for the welfare of the two girls run over and seriously injured...remember them?!

Sadly this event is only one of numerous Police 'violence against citizens' incidents that remain unreported by the media, possibly because of the common occurrence.

Then a probing enquiry into Police management would show, among other matters, that:

1. a prerequisite to recruiting is a reference from a serving officer;
2. any excuse is good enough to be retired out of the Force as "medically unfit due to service" including a claim for agoraphobia, or, the alleged inability of a senior ranking officer to raise a pistol to shoulder height allegedly due to injury incurred whilst on service (when does a desk jockey ever raise a pistol in anger or self defence?);
3. there are insufficient senior non-commissioned ranks to provide the necessary level of mentoring recruits after graduation from the Police Academy.

Yes, i remember them, i just hope that everybody still will remember ...

If a vehicle that has just been involved in a drive-by shooting and is suspected to have occupants that are armed and dangerous is speeding down the footpath running people over I hardly think it is required for the police to determine their age before they decide what action is appropriate. They shot at people that held no ethical consideration for the well-being of others and a complete disregard human life. Only shoot to kill or don't shoot at all. The police made a justified and right decision.

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