Campaign builds to defend persecuted Aboriginal family

Racist Police
Harrasment
in Western Sydney


Click images to Enlarge

Captured at the scene
Captured at the scene
Captured at the scene
Captured at the scene
Captured at the scene
Captured at the scene
Captured at the scene
Captured at the scene

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 Video Footage

Trotskyist Platform

It was early September and Tisha, a well brought-up 21 year-old woman, was getting dressed up. All she wanted was what everyone her age hoped for: a happy and fun 21st birthday party. She was indeed having a pleasant 21st birthday event until a group of thugs dragged her across the road from her own home, crushed her against the ground, tore off the ring on her belly button, lifted up her skirt and unwontedly touched her and left her with bruises on her stomach, arms and legs.

Who would do such a cruel thing? The police in the Western Sydney suburb of Riverstone – that's who! And their pretext for this cowardly assault on a lightly built woman? The music in Tisha's party was too loud claimed the police and with this fraudulent excuse they raided the family's home.

Not only did the police assault Tisha but they did the same to other close relatives who had come to celebrate with her. Moreover, after all this they arrested Tisha, six of her close relatives and a family friend and slapped them with completely trumped up riot charges. Most of those arrested, including Tisha, have been hit up with six or so serious charges including affray and assault of police officers.

So why would Riverstone Police want to pick on one innocent family peacefully going about their own lives? Well, you see, while Tisha and her family may be courteous and good-natured, as far as bigoted police are concerned they have a problem … they are Aboriginal. As the enforcers of an unfair social order that is geared to only serve the big business elite and which was founded on the dispossession of Aboriginal people, Australian police are often hostile to the poor and are notorious for downright brutality towards Aboriginal people. Furthermore, NSW police have a special hatred for Tisha's family. You see, they are Hickeys, close relatives of TJ Hickey the 17 year-old boy who was killed by racist police in February 2004 after they chased him through the streets of Redfern when he was riding his bicycle. As a result of their defiant refusal to abandon the quest for justice for their beloved TJ, the Hickeys, from Redfern to Riverstone, have faced police harassment over the last six and a half years.

To see just how prejudiced Riverstone cops are against the Aboriginal Hickey family, consider the reason why Tisha's party had to be held at her home rather than in a local hall. Not long before Tisha's 21st, her younger sister Jamie turned 18. Her mother, Patricia, had booked the hall for the 18th birthday party at the Riverstone RSL some three months earlier. Yet, when she went to pay up the remainder of the bond money for the party, she was told that the Sergeant at Quakers Hill Police Station had got the hall booking cancelled. When Patricia went to question the Sergeant about this he told her that the hall booking was cancelled because her last name was Hickey and that she had a lot of bad people in her family!

The Police Attack
It was such racist prejudice that drove the police raid on Tisha's party. Tellingly, when police first harassed the Hickey home in Riverstone on the actual night of Tisha's 21st, September 4, they not only made spurious accusations about noise but complained that there were people from Redfern at the party (what a crime!) Notably, the one person from Redfern who had actually, along with her immediate family, been at the party was Gail Hickey – the mother of TJ – although she had left by then. The next morning too when the police attacked the family, they preceded this with a threat to not only take the jukebox but to "Get all the Redfern people out." That the excessive noise claim was merely cover is indicated by the fact that this raid took place not at night … but after 8am in the morning when the party was already over! Moreover, in all the multiple criminal charges placed on family members following the raid, none were actually over the noise.

The large police contingent that morning was calmly met by Tisha's cousin Jade who insisted that the police produce a warrant before they raid the house. The police responded with what appears to have been an orchestrated provocation. The sole female cop that was present suddenly strode forward right up against the unsuspecting Jade and ironically, as she pushed her face towards his, demanded: "Get out of my face." When Jade refused to fall for this provocation and, retreating slightly, explained "No one's in your face," the cop then shoved him aggressively.

When family members came out to verbally protest against this assault, they were promptly arrested. Among them was Tisha. And while Patricia watched in horror as her daughter was being brutalised, police threatened to taser her every time she moved in to help her child. Watching a male cop lift her daughter's skirt and put his paws all over her, Patricia tried to pass the police a pair of tights to cover up her daughter. This the police threw back at her.

Meanwhile, the cops violently arrested Jade and banged his head against the cement, causing blood to come out of his head. His mother, Robyn, responded as best she could by splashing the cup of tea she was drinking (a cup of tea that was itself hardly the sign of a rowdy party!) on the shirts of the police. This, incidentally, was the family's only "physical" response to the police attack and for this "terrifying" act Robyn too was arrested and hit up with serious affray and assault charges. In the end, there were carloads of police and sniffer dogs arresting family members. Among the arrested were Tisha's 16 year-old brother and a 16 year-old female cousin. As Patricia noted, "they even treated the 16 year-old kids like dogs."

The Horror Continues
The arrests were hardly the end of the family's ordeal. In police custody, Robyn, a diabetic, was refused medical assistance to get her dose of insulin. As a result she started to go pale and even so police refused to call an ambulance until some two hours later. Meanwhile, police denied Tisha, a serious asthmatic who normally has to take Ventolin three times a day, assistance after she had a major asthma attack. Later Tisha told her mother, "Mum, I was scared for me and Aunty Robyn. I thought we were going to die."

Now the arrested people face not only serious charges but ongoing police harassment. Undoubtedly as result of police intervention, Tisha was sacked from her job as a childcare worker the day after the raid. Jade's partner Jodie, a respected Aboriginal Assistant teacher, has also been forced out of her job.

Tisha was, in fact, so physically bruised and emotionally traumatised by the whole raid that she found it hard to leave her house for weeks. When she has dared to leave the house, she has been stopped by that very same policeman who had his knee in her back while lifting her skirt and touching her. Although she was only a pedestrian, the cop insisted on breathalysing her!
Meanwhile, police continue to find excuses to bang on the family home's door as they attempt to intimidate those arrested into pleading "guilty." On a couple of occasions they kicked on the door claiming to be searching for a phantom "man."

A Chance to Fight for Justice
In some ways what the Hickeys in Riverstone have copped is just a more extreme version of the frequent racist police harassment that many other Aboriginal people experience throughout the country. The key difference is that on this occasion the family cleverly managed to capture on camera some of the police brutality and the utterly bogus nature of the affray and assault charges that those arrested now face. See the video footage on YouTube and the photographs below.

http://www.youtube.com/v/BzrRXSvCHcE&hl=en_US

This visual evidence is very compelling. Yet in such a political case, linked up as it is with the police killing of TJ Hickey, this evidence will not in itself be enough to win justice for the family through the legal process alone. The Australian courts, like other institutions of the state, are slanted towards the big end of town and are notoriously biased against Aboriginal people. This is the case whether the Australian capitalist state is administered by the openly right-wing Liberal/National Coalition or by the pseudo pro-worker ALP.

However, what the video footage and photographs will do is make it easier to mobilise mass support behind the family which is what it will take to win them justice. Already such support is building and there will be a mass rally on the day (scheduled for March 23) the five adults arrested at Tisha's party go to court at the start of their trial. The demonstration will demand the dropping of all charges against those arrested and more generally will take a stand against racist police attacks against Aboriginal people in the first place and more broadly against police harassment of all non-white and/or working class people as well. The protest will start at 9am outside the Parramatta Court, Corner of George and Marsden Streets, Parramatta.

Several police bang the head of Jade against the cement as his mother, friends and relatives look on in horror. Who was rioting that day and who wasn't?

It is important for all genuine anti-racists to be involved in this campaign. It will be out of the struggles against the worst injustices of today that a movement can be built that will in the future challenge the whole present system of exploitation and racism.

It is vital that the union movement in particular takes a stand in this campaign. Fighting against racism is an act of self-defence of our unions. Greedy capitalist bosses have always used racism to divide workers and stop us organising to defend our rights. Furthermore, as organisations dedicated to winning justice for working-class people, the very principles of solidarity that underpin our existence are strengthened if we defend others who face injustice.

In a plea written to trade unions and intended for all people who hate racism and injustice, Patricia Hickey wrote:
"My family and I have had a lot of harassment from the police since this thing happened to TJ. We've had enough. We want it to stop and stop NOW before another Hickey dies in police custody. Please help us! Enough is enough."

Let's build a mass rally of trade unionists, Aboriginal people and all anti-racists on the day that the Hickey family in Riverstone go to trial to demand: Drop all charges against the persecuted Hickey family in Riverstone! Down with all racist police attacks against Aboriginal people!

Content Scource
Trotskyist Platform:
PO Box 1101, Fairfield NSW 1860, Australia
E-mail: trotskyistplatform@gmail.com
Phone (Australia): 0417 204 611Phone (International):0061 417 204 611

Comments

TJ Hickey Plaque Poster

By Ray Jackson, President, Indigenous Social Justice Association.

attached is a colour version of the tj hickey plaque that was donated by the uts atsi students that was to be attached to the concrete block wall below the spiked metal fence on which tj became impaled on the first anniversary of his death. that was in 2004.

now in 2011 the redfern police and the waterloo dept. of housing continue to deny the hickey family, including his father, ian west, the dignity of placing a memorial to their son to better honour his memory.

the redfern police are oppossed to the words on the plaque stating that tj died as a 'result of a police pursuit'.

they want the wording to reflect that tj died as the result of a 'tragic accident' thus cleansing their participation in the events leading to his death.

the time whereby police could just rewrite history is over. we must be allowed to honour tj. the plaque must be allowed to be fixed to the concrete wall.

we ask that you print out the poster, in colour if possible, and place it, and others, in suitable places.

we also ask that you contact superintendant luke freudenberg on freu1luk@police.nsw.gov.au and inform him of your support for the plaque to be finally placed on the concrete wall. also contact the dept. of housing on 1300 468 746 24 hours a day to request that they ignore the police direction and allow the plaque to be placed.

together we can make change.

fkj

ray jackson
president
indigenous social justice association.

TJ Hickey - 7 Years & Still No Justice!

Ray Jackson, President: Indigenous Social Justice Association

we are fast approaching the 7th anniversary of the death of tj hickey arising from a police chase on st. valentines day, 2004.

after a torrent of police lies, collaborative statements by the 4+ police involved, a severely restricted coronial inquest, witnesses and evidence not allowed by the coroner to be entered and the government-appointed legal team for the hickey family that sat on its hands, there is no great surprise that the redfern police were exonerated by then state coroner, john abernethey, now retired.

apropos to the call for justice for tj and the hickey family over the previous 6 years, and calling for it a seventh time, we have expanded our demands for this year to include a death in custody monument to be incorporated into the pemulwuy plan of the aboriginal housing company at the block. further, that such monument include the tj plaque as presented by the aboriginal students association of uts, sydney, some years ago.

a letter from isja on behalf of the hickey family stating this call has been hand-delivered, by myself, to mick mundine of the ahc on tuesday 18th 2011. to date we have not heard from mick on this matter.

personally, i can see no problems with the nub of the letter given to mick. the block is aboriginal land owned by the ahc. the ahc plan to rebuild the block as per the accepted plan. i can see no good reason why our call for an aboriginal monument to all nsw death in custody should not be acceptable to the ahc, the community and all nsw death in custody families.

an aboriginal monument on aboriginal land! who can deny the right that this be done!

for 7 years the hickey family have been denied by the redfern police, the nsw dept. of housing and the nsw government to place the plaque on or near the taurunga units fence line.

now we have rhe right to erect the monument on our own land, the block. we anxiously await the decision of the ahc and mick mundine.

another call has been for several nsw politicians to attend the march/rally this year and to speak in support of the call for justice and for support of the monument. of those invited, one has said no due to a busy calendar. that was the shadow minister for aboriginal affairs, national's kevin humphries.

two upper house members have said yes, greens david shoebridge and ian cohen. we honour their humanity and welcome their acceptance.

we will gather at the taurunga units fence line, cnr george and philips streets,waterloo, opposite the centre of excellence, at 10.30 am. on 14th february, 2011.

there will be speakers, followed by a two minute silence at 11.17 am, further speakers, if required, thence a march to the redfern police station via pitt and redfern streets. a further silence will be held and speakers again, if required.

then cross to the block for another silence and again speakers, if required.

we urge all to attend if possible and for notices of support if you cannot. these can be sent to isja01@internode.on.net

please also print out and distribute to your networks.

7 years for justice is too long.

fkj

Hickey Family Support in Melbourne

Speak out in solidarity with the persecuted Hickey family!
Wednesday 23 March, 7:00 pm
Solidarity Salon
580 Sydney Road, Brunswick

• Drop all charges against the Riverstone 8!
• Bring the killers of TJ Hickey to justice!
• End the victimisation of deaths in custody families who resist!
• Build the movement to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody.

Hosted by the Indigenous Social Justice Association — Melbourne
For more information call 9388-0062 or e-mail alison.thorne@ozemail.com.au
For more information about the campaign to defend the Riverstone Eight, including photos and film footage exposing the extent of police brutality go to: http://web.aanet.com.au/tplatform/Riverstone.html

To donate to assist our work, send cheques or money orders payable to ISJA to PO Box 308, Brunswick Vic 3056.

cops assault on tj hickey's family

by Ray Jackson

practically on the doorstep of the 7th anniversary of the death of tj hickey at the hands of the redfern cops in february 2004, we are advised of an assault against members of tj's family by the riverstone cops. this event only highlights the continuing assault and harassment of hickey family members, across the extended family, still perpetrated by cops from redfern, newtown, riverstone, among others.

we must give gratitude and honour to gail hickey, her children and her extended family for standing against the police attacks brought about only because family members will not accept the police verdict of the death of tj. the police, and coronial view, is that the redfern cops were no where near tj when he was catapulted onto the spiked fence at the tauranga towers, waterloo.

this is a lie and nothing but a lie. the truth is that tj was rammed by a redfern police vehicle after chasing him for some distance. in my opinion, and i stress it is only my opinion, the vehicle that rammed tj on that day was driven by one of two police officers. their names are constable michael hollingsworth (as he was then but since promoted) or detective darren price (since moved on to other police situations). my personal preference is for price over hollingsworth as the driver. i have my reasons but this is neither the time nor place to discuss them.

the treatment being given to the hickey family is no worse or better than that meted out to other death in custody families. this is an old but commonly used tactic to shut down family and organisational protests. police have incorporated such attacks against the murray family, the boney family, the scott family, among many others i could mention. whilst the scott death was not a police death, he was killed in berrimah gaol, nt by 4 gaol officers, nonetheless the police of the nt,qld and nsw were utilised to bring pressure to bear on his family.

it goes without saying that we must support the hickey family, and any other family, from this constant police oppression and we are able to do that in several ways.

firstly there will be the 7th anniversary of tj's death on monday 14 february 2011 beginning at 1030 am whereby a rally will be held at the fence line at waterloo. i will post details later. we will be asking nsw politicians and mick mundine of the aboriginal housing co. to support the building of a monument, in the rebuilt block, to all nsw deaths in custody with the tj plaque being the first to be incorporated. what reason could there be for an undignified, unjustified and cowardly refusal?

secondly, i urge you to write to nsw police commissioner scipione, kristina kennealy, premier nsw, and others you may care to nominate. if possible print this post out, less the voxpops, and include your own thoughts. also argue for the dic monument at the block.

thirdly, if possible turn up at the parramatta courts to support the family against the police lies. details are in the body of the post.

for 213 years this evil has been allowed to continue with the full support of the politicians and the courts. we pay their overblown wages and their perks. it is about time that as citizens of this country we had a direct say in these operations, including the police, gaols and juvenile justice issues.

other countries, including the usa, have citizens police boards as a start. so should we.

enough of the tyranny, terrorism and injustice of our police forces.

fkj

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