National outcry at Wotton's sentence

November 8, 2008

On November 7, rallies in support of Lex Wotton took place around the country as Wotton was sentenced in Townsville to six years' prison for "riot with destruction".

In Melbourne, the crowd, led by local Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe, occupied the forecourt of the County Court for a couple of hours in protest at the massive hypocrisy and injustice present in Wotton's case (see back page article).

Speakers from Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and West Papua, who had been at the Latin America Asia and the Pacific International Indigenous Solidarity Gathering on 25-26 October, also addressed the crowd and showed their solidarity.

One-hundred-and-fifty people gathered on the steps of the Downing Centre local court in Sydney. There was much cheering and jubilation when a Maritime Union of Australia representative informed the crowd, "The wharfies have stopped work" in solidarity with Wotton.

Lyall Munro, Indigenous activist from the Redfern Block, highlighted the systematic racism in the police force. "None of the police that responded to the Cronulla riots were rewarded with bravery medals but as soon as they go into an Aboriginal community — it's like they are going to war."

Another Indigenous leader, Bowie Hickie, called for an intervention into the Queensland police force rather than the racist Northern Territory intervention. "It's time the [federal] government took these Nazi boots off the Queensland government", Hickie said.

In Townsville, 100 supporters gathered inside and outside the courthouse as Wotton was sentenced.

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