Glimmers of hope for TJ Hickey justice

Indigenous Social Justice Association 10 February 2011

On Monday 14 February 2011, the Hickey Family, ISJA, other Justice-seeking Groups, and concerned Community members will be holding the 7th Anniversary of the tragic and unnecessary death of 17 year old TJ Hickey arising from a police chase when TJ was returning to his Aunt's residence at Waterloo.

TJ became impaled on the spiked fence at the side of the Taurunga Housing Units in Philip Street, Waterloo after he was rammed by a police vehicle.

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 Abernathy, now retired.

In consultation with Gail Hickey we presented a letter, hand-delivered, to the CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Company, Mick Mundine. The letter had two purposes, one was to inform Mick that the TJ rally and march would terminate at The Block, as it had done in the six years previously, as a matter of courtesy.

The second was to request of Mick and the AHC that a NSW Deaths in Custody Monument be incorporated into their Pemulwuy Plan as a visible reminder of all NSW Deaths in Custody that had occurred since counting began from 1 January 1980. It would need to be a Monument of some significance to allow all the NSW victims to be listed.

We had further asked that the TJ Plaque be attached to the Monument but this has now become unnecessary as we have learnt from the Sydney Lord Mayor's office that the Redfern Police no longer have any objection to the plaque being placed on the fence-line where TJ was impaled. This change of heart by the Redfern Police has been verbally confirmed by Superintendent Luke Freudenstein. He will explain this move, among other matters, when he addresses us at the rally/march on Monday. It is not yet known whether Luke will participate in the march as other individual police have done previously.

Lord Mayor Ms. Clover Moore, through her representatives, has given support to having the plaque placed on the fence-line.There has also been agreement that her Office will broker meetings with the Department of Housing for this to happen and will also seek meetings with the AHC in support for the NSW DIC Monument.

We ardently thank Lord Mayor Moore for her principled stand on these issues and her courage in speaking out on behalf of Justice. Sadly, due to prior commitments she will be unable to attend the rally/march on the 14th.

We have over the previous weeks invited 10 NSW Politicians to attend the rally/march on the 14th but, to date, only 3 have agreed, 5 have advised that they are unable to attend whilst the remaining 2 have remained silent on their availability.

Both Ian Cohen and David Shoebridge of the NSW Greens agreed with alacrity but Ian has decided to cede the floor to David. Greens John Kaye has also expressed his full support but is unsure if he can be there on the day. His presence would be most welcome.

Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, National's Kevin Humphries, Premier Ms. Kristina Kennealy and Minister for Redfern-Waterloo, Deputy Premier Ms. Carmel Tebbutt and LM Ms. Clover Moore have all advised of their unavailability.

So has Ms. Verity Firth but she also sent a letter of support saying how "pleased (she was) to see that ISJA has been working with the Redfern Aboriginal community and the family of TJ to remember his young life and the circumstances of his death." She further commended the approach to the AHC for a Monument to those NSW Aborigines who have died in custody.

We have yet to hear from the ALP's Ms. Linda Burney and Paul Lynch who is our Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.

Since 1 January 1980 there has been in excess of 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, nationally, who have died in custody. Whether police, gaols or by custodial health. The one enduring fault with all those deaths is a total lack of Duty of Care by the individual officers and their Systems involved in these deaths.

We must and we will continue to lobby the Governments and their Systems to put an end to such criminal acts that leads to the death of our people.

Hopefully the glimmer of support from the Lord Mayor's office will begin that process. At least for the NSW Families, black, white or brindle.

We will gather at the Taurunga units' fence line, cnr George and Philips streets, Waterloo, opposite the Indigenous Centre of Excellence, at 10.30 am, on Monday 14th February, 2011.

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

We then cross to the Block for another silence and again more speakers, if required.

I will be seeking a mark of respect for Ms. Letty Scott who died on this day, the 14th bFebruary 2009. She and her Family fought for over 20 years for justice on the murder of her husband, Douglas Bruce Scott, in Berrimah Gaol, NT in 1985. She succummed to cancer before winning the Justice she fought so hard for.

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

7 YEARS OF INJUSTICE IS TOO LONG!

Enquires Ray Jackson 0450 651 063 or Raul Bassi 0403 037 376

Comments

Gail Hickey's barrister, speaking in Melbourne

You are invited to a public meeting on Wednesday 23 March: Speak out in solidarity with the persecuted Hickey family!

This meeting will be the first opportunity in Melbourne to hear Emrys Nekvapil, Gail Hickey's barrister, speak publicly about the complaint Gail has taken to the UN Human Rights Committee. Don't miss it!

It's also your opportunity to show your solidarity with the Riverstone 7 and demand all charges be dropped against Hickey family members targeted while enjoying a 21st birthday party.

The meeting will take place at 7 pm at Solidarity Salon, 580 Sydney Road, Brunswick.

If you'd like to get actively involved in the work of ISJA, you are invited to our next organising meeting on Wednesday 16 March, 6:30 pm at Solidarity Salon.

But, even if you can't attend meetings, you can still support the movement to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody by acting on campaign requests, contributing financially and circulating our materials.

In solidarity
Alison Thorne
For ISJA - Melb

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