Tuesday 10th of December 2019

your laws are killing us...

 hand... Policing has played and continues to play a critical role in dispossession in a way that works to displace self-determination as a real option for Aboriginal peoples on their own countries. While we await the trial, the law will begin to do its work in transmuting witness reports, forensic data and all other information into evidence. Evidence is crucial to establish facts, ascribe guilt or absolve a defendant. But this other evidence relates to the culpability of a colonial system which has resulted in Aboriginal death, and not just to the actions of an individual officer.

Sophie Trivett, a lawyer working in the Northern Territory representing Aboriginal people, has recently made this compelling claim:

I want you to understand that it wasn’t bad luck that saw Kumanjayi Walker shot and killed by police. It was the devastating, completely unsurprising, unforgivable natural conclusion of a system that has seen 424 First Nations people die in custody since the end of the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Trivett’s article is a type of testimony. She works in law in order to seek justice for Indigenous peoples within the machinery of colonial law. Her evidence — which, I would suggest, speaks to the culpability of the law itself — comes from her direct interactions with communities but can be admitted nowhere legally. Her hope is that the broader population will care that the people with whom she has worked:

begged for things to do — anything — in youth detention to help them get ready to face the world when they were released. They asked for Tafe courses and job-ready programs. They asked for anger management courses to help them stay calm. They asked for time out bush and ways to connect with culture. They asked for Aboriginal staff who understood them and who spoke their language. They asked for family.

Trivett says we are all implicated in this system that her testimony reveals as an aggressor against Indigenous peoples. Colonial laws are an integral part of this system. At the Adelaide rally I heard more calls from the community: “We don’t need this Government, we have been governing this place for millennia!” One placard read: “Your laws are killing us.”


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Gus: When I was last in Yuendumu, the community was tight-knit, dry (no alcohol), proud — and self-policing. It seems that no one would place a wrong foot forward, especially visitors who had to have mutual respect to be accepted.

one death too many...

Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody

A royal commission in 1987 investigated Aboriginal deaths in custody over a 10-year period, giving over 330 recommendations. Its recommendations are still valid today, but very few have been implemented. Every year, Aboriginal people continue to die in custody.

Source: Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody - Creative Spirits, retrieved from https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/law/royal-commission-...