Tuesday 14th of July 2020

dying in custody...


Anger over the death of George Floyd has spread to Australia, with Black Lives Matter protests being held across the country.

But Australian demonstrators are not just expressing solidarity. Many are using the moment to vent fury about indigenous deaths in custody in Australia. So what is the situation? 

How many indigenous Australians have died in custody?

Almost three decades on from a major inquiry into this issue, there is no easily accessible record.

In 1987, the Committee to Defend Black Rights found that one indigenous person was dying in custody every 11 days. It spurred a royal commission, completed in 1991, which investigated the incarceration of Aboriginal people and the circumstances of 99 deaths.

The inquiry made more than 300 recommendations, but most were not implemented, and recent reviews have been criticised as inadequate or misleading.

Analysis by The Guardian found that at least 432 indigenous Australians have died in custody since the inquiry.

Are Aboriginal Australians disproportionately jailed? 

Massively. Indigenous people comprise almost 30% of Australian inmates but less than 3% of the national population, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This is about four times higher than the proportion of African-Americans jailed in the US. 

There have been other stark reminders. A committee heard last year that every child in detention in the Northern Territory was indigenous.

According to one recent analysis, indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people in the world - though its authors cautioned that much global data was not available.

When has anger escalated previously?

Some recent Aboriginal deaths in custody have sparked protests. High-profile cases include: 

In 2004, there were riots in the Sydney suburb of Redfern after a 17-year-old boy, TJ Hickey, was killed in a police pursuit.


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the virus wins...

Police in New South Wales have won a Supreme Court bid to prohibit Sydney's weekend Black Lives Matter march.


Key points:
  • International protests have thrown light on police treatment of Indigenous Australians
  • Police Minister David Elliott called local protests "not my kind of cause"
  • Senior politicians said they were concerned for public health amid the pandemic


NSW Police took organisers to court, concerned the event would breach COVID-19 public health orders about social distancing after about 10,000 people flagged an intention to attend.

Justice Desmond Fagan acknowledged he was balancing the recognised right of public assembly against health risks, but ultimately said a rally of even 5,000 people was "a very undesirable idea" given the current health advice.

"The exercise of the fundamental right of assembly … is not taken away by the current public health order, it is deferred," Justice Fagan said.


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What about 10 groups of 500 people?...

protestors have vowed to turn up despite the court ban...

Organisers of the Black Lives Matter rally set for Sydney today have launched an urgent appeal to overturn the Supreme Court ban on the event.


Key points:
  • The Supreme Court ruled on Friday the event was not authorised
  • Organisers have now launched an urgent appeal against the decision
  • NSW Police Minister David Elliott has warned police are "well prepared" for those who do attend


Greens MP David Shoebridge confirmed that organisers had lodged an appeal at the NSW Court of Appeal, just hours before the protest was due to start. 

Mr Shoebridge said rally organisers had drafted summons and had contacted the court seeking an urgent audio visual hearing.

Protestors have vowed to turn up despite the court ban.

Mr Shoebridge said the case presented would argue that "the judge got it wrong". 

"The organisers have received strong advice from lawyers across the legal community that the decision has significant flaws that amount to jurisdictional error," he said in a tweet.


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protest allowed...

The Sydney “Stop All Black Deaths in Custody” rally has been declared an authorised public assembly after a late decision by the court of appeal as thousands of protesters rallied in cities and towns across Australia to march against Indigenous deaths in custody and the killing of US man George Floyd.

The decision came minutes before the rally’s scheduled start at 3pm outside Town Hall on Saturday.

It means protesters cannot be arrested for blocking roads along the planned route from Town Hall to Belmore Park.

Organisers of Sydney’s Black Lives Matter protest had lodged a last-ditch appeal after the New South Wales supreme court ruled their Saturday demonstration would be unlawful under Covid-19 restrictions.

Protesters had vowed to push ahead with the Sydney rally on Saturday, in defiance of the court ruling, with about 2,000 having gathered outside Sydney Town Hall by 2.30pm, half an hour before the protest was due to begin.

Greens MP David Shoebridge confirmed only a few hours before the rally was due to be begin that organisers would file an urgent appeal.

“The organisers have received strong advice from lawyers across the legal community that the decision has significant flaws that amount to jurisdictional error,” he said. “Taking the legal jargon away, the case will be that the judge got it wrong. That rally is in fact authorised and was agreed to by police.”


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protest went on...

Thousands of people protested across Australia on Saturday to oppose the deaths of Indigenous people in police custody. 

Key points:

  • Thousands of people turned out at rallies across Australia
  • Protesters were supporting Indigenous people and the Black Lives Matter movement, which began after police killings in the US
  • The protests in capital cities and regional centres were largely peaceful

They followed Black Lives Matter protests held around the world in recent weeks after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in the US state of Minneapolis.

Rallies kicked off in Brisbane and Adelaide, along with some regional centres.

Big crowds also gathered later Saturday afternoon for protests in Melbourne and Sydney — after the New South Wales Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a last-ditch attempt to lawfully authorise a Sydney protest.

The last-minute decision meant those marching in Sydney were immune from prosecution for breaching public health orders. 

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge announced the success of the appeal to resounding cheers from the crowd.


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See also:

a dream of justice and dark emu on australia day...

we demand equality...




In Bristol in western England, demonstrators tore down a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston.

Sunday’s London protest was largely peaceful. People waved placards and chanted: “George Floyd!” and “The UK is not innocent!”

As the numbers dwindled, some protesters clashed with police outside the Foreign Office after one man was arrested. They threw bottles and flares and chanted: “Black lives matter!” as they tried to push through a line of riot police.


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under the knee...

WA police officer escaped sanction for ‘shocking’ force against Indigenous boy

Outrage after CCTV reveals Perth officer dragged handcuffed teenager to ground, causing him to hit his head, then a concerned witness was arrested for obstructing police

A Western Australian police officer who dragged a handcuffed Indigenous boy on to the ground, causing his head to hit the pavement, escaped any sanction over the incident after an internal investigation found the level of force used was “necessary and not excessive”.

Amid a spate of incidents raising concerns about heavy-handed policing against Indigenous people in Australia, footage obtained by the Guardian highlights what critics say is the flawed process by which investigations into alleged misconduct made against officers are handled internally.

Shot outside Perth train station, the CCTV footage shows the teenager handcuffed and surrounded by five police officers after being detained in the early hours of 7 July 2018. The teenager, who is sitting down with his hands cuffed behind his back during the incident, appears to say something to the officers. One of them then grabs the boy and pulls him on to the ground in two motions, causing his head to hit the pavement.


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