For almost 14 years we have repeated the same sad story of the death of TJ Hickey.
The young Kamilaroi man was happily riding his bike in Waterloo on February 14, 2004, totally unaware of the tragedy that was to come. A police car driven by then Constable Hollingsworth, started to pursue him. On the corner of Phillip and George streets, a police vehicle hit the bike and TJ was catapulted and impaled on the spiked iron fence.
Against all police protocols governing these types of cases, the police officer pulled TJ from the fence. When the police rescue vehicle came, Hollingsworth sent it away. After a long wait, an ambulance arrived and took him to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he died the next day.
The coronial inquest was completed so quickly and with so many mistakes and omissions, that many defined as corrupt. The coroner declared TJ’s death to have been a “freak accident” and cleared police of any wrongdoing.
But the family has never accepted the finding. For 14 years, TJ’s mother Gail Hickey and his family, with the support of Ray Jackson and the Indigenous Social Justice Association, have been campaigning for justice. Every year on the anniversary of the accident they rally for a new inquest.
Last year, on the anniversary of TJ’s death, the NSW Minister for Housing, Prue Goward announced that a memorial would be built as part of the redevelopment of the housing estate in Waterloo, on the site where his bike was rammed. This was the first time any NSW government, Labor or Coalition, had accepted any accountability for TJ’s death.
There was an agreement that Gail and the Hickey family would arrange the design and choose the wording for the plaque. It was planned to be placed near the tree where the TJ Hickey Park sign is today.
However, the government’s intention to redevelop Waterloo has been continually postponed, leaving the memorial up in the air because, with no final project, it is not clear where it will be built exactly.
On February 14 at 10.30am we are meeting at TJ Hickey Park, on the corner of Phillip and George streets, Waterloo before marching to Parliament House.
We have invited the minister to meet or send a representative to talk to Gail and the family to reaffirm her commitment to the memorial and that it will be built as soon as possible in the place proposed by the family, independent of the redevelopment of Waterloo.
We will also ask for her support for the call for a parliamentary inquiry.
Join the rally and march to demand:
- The immediate construction of the TJ memorial in Waterloo with the design chosen by the Hickey family;
- That the memorial be built before the redevelopment of Waterloo. The size required is very small, and only by constructing the memorial now will its permanency be ensured in the new Waterloo development;
- That a parliamentary inquiry capable of correcting the wrongs compounded over the years as a result of the police’s internal investigation and the coronial inquiry be established now;
- An end to Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in NSW and everywhere in the country.