Statement from Black Lives Matter protests in Alice Springs and Sydney
Written by: Louisa L on 27 October 2020
The statement printed below was read at the Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney, on Monday, 26 October. In Alice Springs later that day, Constable Zachary Rolfe was charged with murder for the shooting death of Warlpiri teenager, Walker, at Yuendumu last year. After Walker’s death, there were immediate Australia-wide protests. The numbers attending were unprecedented on this issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody since before the Royal Commission, 30 years earlier.
The response to Walker’s death fed into the massive protests early this year.
Monday’s protest coincided with a NSW parliamentary inquiry into black deaths in custody. The family of David Dungay (above) spoke at the Sydney protest and his mother also gave evidence at the inquiry
Despite tens of thousands being allowed to attend the Rugby League Grand Final at Sydney Football Stadium the evening before, a police permit stated that only 45 people were to attend the protest in Sydney’s domain. In pouring rain, well over 300 people joined the protest, despite police demands.
At the same time, hundreds rallied in Alice Springs, marking the first time anyone has been charged with murder for the over 400 Black deaths in custody, since the Royal Commission.
A committee elected from Warlpiri People to lead the response to the fatal shooting of one of our young men
… We are dealing with a very serious issue that will have big consequences. There must be justice, forgiveness and also big changes. A new start. A revolution.
We need to end violence and the wrath of our police and reclaim our rights to control our own communities.
Right now, every time we see police with a gun, we are terrified. This shooting is the first time since the Coniston Massacre that police have shot Warlpiri People. They are getting more and more weapons, more power and more racist toward us than for many years.
Things started to become very bad with the NT Intervention back in 2007, when the army was sent to our communities and all our rights were taken away from us.
We are a proud People, strong in our language, culture and our Lore. But the police and government rule over us and treat us as enemies in our own land.
All the investment in Yuendumu since the Intervention has been against the community. They built a big police station to terrorise and control us. The Basics Card controls our money. It feels like the Intervention opened the door to anyone to come in and wipe us out, not just shooting us, but taking away our identity, our Tjukurrpa.
Here we really are as the Warlpiri People. We have no rights to self-determination. So many of our People, including our children, are taken away to prison.
When the shooting happened, our young People stood up as part of Black Lives Matter Movement that is happening around the world. Being part of this movement is very special for us, and seeing what is happening with black people being killed by the police everywhere, and we know everyone is getting stronger, fighting for their freedom. … It gives us hope that a new day is coming, when the racism will end and our Lore and culture will be respected.
We want everyone supporting Black Lives Matter to stand with us for justice for Walker.
This means those responsible must be held accountable. Justice for Walker also means that power must come back to the Warlpiri People and the violence and control against us must end. We want our rights back to continue what happens in our communities and on our land. Stop this Intervention and all the racist laws we are under. Reset our local councils and give us the resources we need to employ and serve our people. The police must put down their weapons before they come into our land. We cannot walk around in fear in our own community.
Respect Warlpiri Lore, the real Lore of our land.
Note: A section referring to Constable Rolfe has been omitted. The transcription may be slightly inaccurate, due to heavy rainfall while the recording was taking place.
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