Yamaji elder: JC verdict shows colonialism continues

October 28, 2021
Protesters leave red hand prints outside WA parliament demand justice for Yamatji woman JC. Photo: Alex Salmon

The racist verdict in the JC* trial is being questioned not only by many First Nations people, but many others as well. The police officer who shot JC in 2019 was acquitted on October 22.

That verdict, which the jury took just a few hours to deliberate on, demonstrates how entrenched the colonial justice system is. It shows how, since 1788, Aboriginal people have been killed by an unaccountable, unjust and racist colonial system.

The prosecution’s case against the police officer included CCTV footage from a nearby house. Director of Public Prosecutions Amanda Forrester alleged it showed JC standing still, with a knife by her side, and that she was not a threat when the officer fired his gun at her. “[The footage proved] JC did not take a step or move towards the officer when he shot her,” Forrester said. “He cannot have believed what he did was necessary.”

This racist unjust verdict gives permission for trigger-happy drunk-on-white power police to continue killing Aboriginal people, without fear that they will be brought to account.

It also proves that this settler nation believes its whiteness is above accountability. The justice system is based on the principles of White Australia’s inhumane theft and genocide.

The many lies and denials today cannot change the truth about the ongoing colonial criminal horror inflicted on Aboriginal people, including those from defence barrister Linda Black. Black’s haughtiness was shown up during a demonstration of how a taser works. She began laughing loudly, later telling the jury that JC was a “walking time bomb” and a person who “needed to be taken down”.

Black also said in her opening address that the case had “nothing to do with race”.

As Edward Said famously wrote, Europe was built and defined on racial superiority. “It can be argued that the major component in European culture is […] the idea of European identity as a superior one in comparison with all the non-European peoples and cultures.”

The belief in white superiority has underpinned colonialism — the theft of land, resources, wealth and the genocide of First Nations communities. Without understanding this history, we will only continue to perpetrate the injustices.

Many Aboriginal people, including me, take issue with Black’s nonsensical “no racism” claim. The Yamaji community wonder who will be the next JC to be brutally shot and killed by a racist, unaccountable police officer.

Nothing has been learned from Police Commissioner Chris Dawson’s 2018 apology for past mistreatment of First Nations people. Actions speak louder than words. The immeasurable pain and suffering from ongoing police brutality continues today.

Once again, Aboriginal people fear for their lives and are forced to take to the streets to protest the ongoing colonial criminal injustices.

[Joyce Capewell is a Yamaji elder. JC is being used for cultural reasons.]

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