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Ferguson Australia, Murder under the Red, White and by Blue

A Missouri grand jury has decided Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August, will not be charged.

The rest you know.

The police have yet again either killed a black man or allowed a non black man who did the killing to go free. What is statistically strange about today’s decision is this  – According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. Grand Juries are a rubber stamp, Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” That is of course unless the Grand Jury is deciding to indict a police officer, rarely does it even get to that stage, then the police officer almost always flips the statistics on their head and faces no charges.

Now there is absolutely no point in me adding anything else, millions of column inches, radio reports and TV news stories will cover all the gory details. From the killing of Michael Brown, to the following riots, the travesty of justice and who knows what will happen next. Black child Ivins Rosier a 17 year old boy received 23 years in jail having been tried as an adult for killing a retired police dog. While the killers of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have walked free after shooting dead unarmed black boys.

In Australia… cue the outrage!

This would be perfectly acceptable, mandatory, inspiring even that from all this distance away thousands of Australian’s have taken to social media to express solidarity with Ferguson and disgust with the US justice system. But while Australian’s line up for this noble cause they are deafly silent as to the Black Deaths in Custody that occur right under their noses, right here, under another Red, White and Blue flag, in the United States of Australia.

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Tell me Australia, about the time you took to social media in your thousands and exploded with anger at the death of Mr Briscoe (Pictured above) at the hands of Police in Alice Springs. You can see if you wish reporting on this website, that highlighted the case, that showed Mr Briscoe slowly dying in a cell, that showed his head being smashed into a wall and which showed his blood being casually cleaned up with an officers foot.

Or you can read about Ms Dhu, dead at the hands of police in WA while in custody for a few unpaid fines. Who begged and pleaded to see a doctor, yet died an agonising and needless death. Also from WA you can read about Mr Ward an Aboriginal elder from the Ngaanyatjarra lands in Western Australia, who having been driven a total of 922km in a boiling hot prison van literally cooked to death. He was a artist, a lands right activist who visited China as part of a delegation, a skilled hunter, an interrupter and assisted scientists in conservation. He’s dead at the hands of the justice system for a crime he was alleged to have committed that would have resulted in no more than a fine.

In NSW young TJ Hickey was chased by police to his death and died impaled on a fence. Witnesses believe his bike was clipped by a police car, police say otherwise. No action was taken. In Queensland on Palm Island, Mulrunji would become the 147th Aboriginal person to die in police custody in just 14 years. They were the 14 years that had followed the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody. Mulrunji had been arrested for causing a public nuisance, allegedly, but died a short time later when his liver and spleen were ruptured in two at the hands of police. Back in WA Aboriginal man Marlon Noble served 10 years for a crime he didn’t commit, in fact he never even faced trial, he was simply held, imprisoned and warehoused like perished goods.

There are countless other cases, by countless I mean hundreds in the last 30 years, each and every time the Aboriginal community fight for justice. Each and every time communities are left without justice at the hands of the justice system.

These incidents didn’t happen in Compton or Atlanta, in NYC or the Southside of Chicago. They didn’t happen in rural Texas, inner city Memphis or in the backwaters of Georgia and they certainly didn’t happen in Ferguson.

They happened in your country, in your state, in your city and under your version of a flag wearing Red, White and Blue. The officers here, like the officer from Ferguson have never faced Justice. The Black community here, like the Black community there have begged, pleaded, lobbied and advocated for Justice. Both communities have been failed.

So why haven’t the cases that happened under your nose received anywhere near the attention? Why isn’t Ms Dhu “Trending” like Ferguson is right here in Australia. Why aren’t there thousands of angry and appalled Australians taking to social media calling for Justice for OUR BLACK DEAD…

…. Well that’s on you!

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Yarn safe Brothers and Sisters

In Her Own Final Words

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Out of Tragedy comes the Truth – Black Deaths in Custody

On the morning of August 25th 2005 the category 5 Hurricane named Katrina made landfall in Florida, it would go on to cause carnage and destruction across Southern States, cause $100billion worth of damage, leave tens of thousands homeless and claim the lives of nearly 2000 people. As this tragedy unfolded and America’s eyes were forced once again to view its deep-seated racism on prime time TV, this time by the disproportionate number of Black people killed, injured and struggling post Katrina, some truth began to emerge. Despite the horrendous loss of life, the struggles to survive of those left behind and the apocalyptic damage caused to many towns and cities, the American media largely focussed on a handful of people (some black) who were shop lifting and stealing. At the obligatory benefit concert a week later, with lives still being lost and others battling to find food and shelter, Kanye West made the following statements.

“George Bush doesn’t care about Black people”. Driven by frustration at the lack of Government response and action, driven by the demonising of an entire community struggling against a once in a generation storm, Kanye West (Not known for his eloquent political prose) said some real shit, George Bush and by inference the US Government and power structures neither care for nor like very much Black folk. Of course as time went by, Kanye West apologised, Bush wrote in his memoirs that West’s comments were a “low point” and told a National TV audience that “it was one of the most disgusting moments of my Presidency”. To which the interviewer, NBC’s high respected Matt Lauer, simply nodded along. Yes, that’s right, to the President behind the Iraq and Afghan Wars, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Systematic torture, the US Attorneys crisis, The GFC and yes the disgraceful response to Hurricane Katrina… the problem was not any of these tings, they were not low points nor disgusting. That said the 43rd President of the United States of America were the comments made by a rapper.

And so out of the tragic death of 22 year old Indigenous woman, Julieka Dhu, let me say, Australia doesn’t care about Black people. Let me correct that, around the same time as Ms Dhu was slowly and agonisingly dying in a West Australian jail cell, Michael Brown a young Black man was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Rightly, a large number of Australian’s were outraged by what had happened to this young man, it was intensely followed on social media, broadcast on national TV and discussed at length in the weekend papers. But you could count on one hand the number of journalists who even know Ms Dhu’s name, nor politicians who have made statements about her death, nor protests and complaints from the Non-Indigenous community.

Ms Dhu was in jail in the Pilbara (Western Australia) for $1000 in unpaid fines, she had been attempting to see a doctor for a leg infection when arrested but “despite days of vomiting, worsening pain and complaints of fever and paralysis — first in her lower body and then her face — authorities deemed her medically fit to be kept in custody after two visits to the nearby hospital, although she reportedly wasn’t seen by a doctor.” Her partner Dion Ruffin was held in the cell nearest cell to Ms Dhu’s “We had to beg for hours to get them to send her to the hospital, she was in so much pain and was vomiting, it got worse and worse until she couldn’t move her legs and was slurring.”

“She was begging for help until her last breath.’’

Australia doesn’t care about it’s own Black People.

And then there is this…. “there is also medical evidence of a head injury, possibly sustained while being held in the South Hedland Police Station watch-house”. Mr Ruffin described what he could hear “I couldn’t see into her cell, she said she was on the floor and when the cops finally agreed to take her to hospital the last time they were laughing and saying she was acting. They opened the cell, and I heard one of them say get up, but she couldn’t and she was begging for help to get up and I heard a big thud, and then silence. I saw her being dragged out of the cell by her arms, her chin was on her chest and I cried out to her, but she was staring down, blank.’’

Is that thud the blow that ended Ms Dhu’s life after days of agony and suffering? We may never know, the case of course has been handed to an internal affairs unit, that will then report to the state’s coroner and….. forgive me if we have been down this road before.

It was in the Pilbara 30 years ago where 16 year old John Pat died from severe head injuries while being held in police custody that help spark the Royal Commission into Black (Aboriginal) Deaths in Custody. Of course nothing changed, Black men and women continue to die in gruesome fashion in custody around the nation. Again in WA, an Elder died in 2008 when he was literally cooked to death in the back of a transport van. Mr Ward was driven for 4 hours in the back of the van, in 50 degree heat without air-conditioning and died of heatstroke and burns just as the journey ended.

Of course often “negligence” is the alleged problem, a lack of staff or the appropriate training, investigations are had and promises of never again. Largely there is silence from the broader community, maybe Black deaths in Australia aren’t as “sexy” as those in the US like the tragically departed Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. Maybe talking about Black Deaths here wont get you as many likes, retweets or favourites, maybe it’s the media’s fault for not telling you it had happened, maybe there is so much wrong in this world that what happens next to you is drowned out by what happens a world away. Or maybe you live in a country, Australia, that doesn’t care about it’s own Black people.

My comments are not disturbing, nor are they a low point and for them I will not apologise. The needless death of Black people, young and old, male and female in the custody of the state in this nation is what is disgusting, it is a low point and from the cells all that can be heard is your silence. But as there was in the death of Mr Pat or the death of Mulrunji whose liver was split in half on Palm Island, or 22 year old Ms Dhu there was a sound, her partner heard it and it was a “thud”. And if you watch this video of another of the 100’s of Black deaths in custody since the Royal Commission was held that was meant to put an end to all this, you too can hear the thud too. In the space of being in police custody for 2hrs, Mr Briscoe, another Black man in Australia was dead. You will hear the thud, you will see where it comes from and then once your eyes have closed, and if you remain silent, there will be another and another and another….

 

 

18c, Andrew Bolt doesn’t know a thing!

There are worthy legal and academic discussions to be had about the proposed repeal of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. You will not find such discussions here, Bolt’s law as it has become known is not about the law, policy or protecting freedom of speech. It is the public vehicle with which the acts of racial arsonists like Bolt are not only being defended but encouraged.

When now Senator for the State of Minnesota and three time Emmy winning Comedian Al Franken was asked in 2004 by commercial backers why it was important to start a politically left wing radio station he paused for a moment… Those backers had come with their cheque books open and ready to support the radio venture and expected Franken, a Harvard Graduate and Saturday Night Live performer and writer, to convince them with one of his famous light hearted comedic lines. Instead the pause ended and Franken angrily exclaimed…. “It’s about answering these fuckheads that have been on the air, and lying, and delivering this simplistic black-and-white babble about how the world works. As if they know something. Sean Hannity does not know a thing. Rush Limbaugh does not know a thing.”

Andrew Bolt does not know a thing, Piers Akerman does not know a thing, Alan Jones does not know a thing. And together along with their many friends in the Government and Media they have been delivering simplistic Black and White babble about how the world works and it’s about time someone answered these fuckheads!

We are told by Attorney General Brandis that this is about protecting free speech and that Andrew Bolt was unfairly silenced by the courts. Was this the silencing that took place in 2002 when Bolt was successfully sued by Magistrate Jelena Popovic for defamation? When a jury found Bolt’s article was ” not true, that it was not a faithful and accurate record of judicial proceedings”, after which Bolt threw a tantrum on the court steps which contained comments that were “misleading” and “disingenuous” according to Justice Bongiorno and the Court of Appeal found to be “at worst, dishonest and misleading and at best, grossly careless”. Is this the sort of behaviour Bolt’s law will protect? No, of course not! Magistrates will still be able to sue Andrew Bolt for defamation and good luck to them, but this immediately points out the hypocrisy of Brandis and Co., who seem comfortable with this check on free speech but not so if it prevents racial bigotry.

Because that it seems is the court case that matters, when in Bolt v Eatock Andrew Bolt was found to have contravened section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. And once again a court was not at all flattering in its criticism of his journalism. “Distorting the truth, not acting in objective good faith, inflammatory, selective misrepresentation, cynical, derisive” and so on. Andrew Bolt has form, how many other journalists hold the distinction of twice having courts find their work to be not only defamatory or racist, but just plain old untruthful. And it is not just in the courts, Bolt who does not believe in the Stolen Generation (See his book “Still Not Sorry) famously challenged Professor Robert Manne to “name just 10” Aboriginal children who had been stolen. Manne named 50…, this of course was not good enough for Bolt.

An important point to remember here is that Manne is a Professor, educated at Melbourne and Oxford Universities. Bolt is not. Bolt is also not a climate scientist and does not believe in either climate change or it being a result of human activity while 97% of climate scientists “agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities”.  My source for this quote? NASA! Is it any wonder a court has on more than one occasion found Bolt to be untruthful, misleading, disingenuous, dishonest and very importantly in this debate “inflammatory”. Because that is what he does, he sets fires, he is a racial arsonist who uses falsehoods to stir fear and hatred in the community. He divides people with his “Black and White Babble” on race, climate change and multiculturalism and just like his American counter part named by Franken, Sean Hannity, he works for Rupert Murdoch. All of whom profit from the many fires of community upheaval these men start.

And when the flames get a little out of control and Mr Bolt gets singed he once again throws one of his famous tantrums. Either on the steps of a court house, by refusing to go to work as he did just weeks ago or claiming that he is being silenced. This is a man with a TV Show, a Radio Show, a Blog and the most read Newspaper column in the country. Silenced? Based on court findings alone this man is lucky to have a job that doesn’t include scrubbing toilets and yet with all that he has we need a change to the law to protect him according to the current Government.

Bolt, a denier of the genocide committed against the Indigenous people of this land, holds something in common with another man who is a genocide denier. Gerald Toben has also been found to have contravened section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. Toben, another racial arsonist, makes his money denying the catastrophic genocide that is the Holocaust. And just like Bolt he too throws a tantrum every time he is found to be on the wrong side of the law. Twice he has served time in prison for his offences, he has been found in contempt of court and along with a group of other holocaust deniers including a former Ku Klux Klan leader attended an event in Iran that sought to wash the Holocaust from history books.

And despite the findings of a court , the Adelaide Institute founded by Toben, has stated “‘What Andrew Bolt said was basically true and factual” and supports the repeal of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and other laws on racial vilification that stifle ”legitimate” historical debate.

That’s what this repeal is about, protecting bigots like Bolt and Toben. Senator Brandis admitted as much when he stated people have “a right to be bigots”. That is to say that the likes of Bolt and Toben have a right to be racial arsonists, setting off fires wherever they like with no view to the very real world consequences that result. The Foundation for Young Australians conducted extensive research which found “the experience of racism has serious impacts on health and wellbeing”, the current and historical impacts of anti-Semitism are undeniable and the racist policies perpetrated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Peoples is the cancer that still eats at this nation. Indian students are beaten in the streets, Islamphobia is an everyday experience for the Muslim Community and “70% of secondary school students experience at least one form of racism” and yet for the sake of untruthful, inflammatory, convicted racists we will repeal a section of law that seeks to tackle racism in our society…

You must be fucking joking!

What happened to victims rights? Not one of the victims of Bolt or Toben support the repeal of 18c, not a single community group made up of those effected by 18c support its repeal. From Aboriginal leaders like Marcia Langton, to a cross section of Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups to just about every Human Rights organisation there has been condemnation. About the only person who does not oppose the repeal is new Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, who before being personally appointed to the six figure salary by George Brandis himself worked at the IPA championing the rights of Bolt above all others.

We can get easily caught up in overly academic and legal discussions on this issue or we can accept in a world far more complex than the black and white babble sold to us by Bolt, that ethnically diverse communities like ours need some basic rules in place that uphold the dignity of all. Andrew Bolt doesn’t know a thing, but if the repeal of 18c goes ahead he will be free to use his untruths and dishonesty to set off racial fires around the land. If he is silenced now on his blog, radio show, TV show and newspaper column imagine the carnage he will sow when he is freed from the shackles of decency. And the fallout will be on the heads of the Government and anyone else who thought 21st century Australia should return to the laws of the jungle.

Intellectually disabled Aboriginal people stuck in prison without conviction

Rosie Ann Fulton: one of dozens of intellectually disabled Aboriginal people stuck in prison without conviction

By John Stewart

An investigation has revealed dozens of intellectually disabled Aboriginal people are being kept in prison indefinitely because of a lack of proper healthcare facilities.

The ABC’s Lateline program exposed the case of 23-year-old Rosie Anne Fulton, who has spent the past 18 months in a Kalgoorlie jail without a trial or conviction after she was charged with driving offences.

The magistrate in her case declared her unfit to plead because she is intellectually impaired – a victim of foetal alcohol syndrome.

Her legal guardian, former police officer Ian McKinlay, says Rosie Anne ended up on a prison-based supervision order because there were no alternatives in the area at the time.

“At the moment this outcome is almost entirely reserved for Aboriginal, Indigenous Australians,” he said.

The Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign says there are at least 30 Indigenous people in her situation around the country.

Mr McKinlay has been trying to get her moved to Alice Springs to be closer to her family.

“She rings several times a week, sometimes twice a day, wanting to know when she is coming back to live in Alice Springs,” he said.

Last year, the Northern Territory health department agreed to move Rosie Anne to a secure care facility built next to the Alice Springs prison.

The centre was specifically designed to house people with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviours.

Mr McKinlay says he received repeated assurances from the department that Rosie Anne would be moved there last year.

“They identified her as a prime candidate for secure care and they rejected any other form of service that guardians were advocating for pending the completion of this facility,” he said.

But last month he received a new letter from the health department, this time rejecting Rosie Anne.

The letter states that she is not compatible with the male residents staying at the centre.

“From a clinical risk management perspective, the risks posed to Ms Fulton’s safety were she transferred to the facility are untenable,” the letter stated.

A statement issued from the NT health department said secure care facilities were not gender specific.

“The Department of Health always holds the health and wellbeing of clients as paramount,” the statement said.

“Due to its responsibility to client privacy, the department is unable to provide comment on specific client circumstances, treatment or care.”

Mark O’Reilly, principal legal officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, says some of his clients have waited in jail for an outcome for five years.

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Liz Thompson explains why she is not speaking at the Close Manus rally on Saturday

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I am not speaking at the Close Manus rally on Saturday, organised by RAC [Refugee Action Collective]. Without thinking, I agreed to do it, thinking there could be no harm. But in fact the reaction to me speaking on Dateline has made me reconsider. 

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On Poor versus Poverty

Originally published by my friend Kelly Briggs (TheKooriWoman), a Gomeroi Woman from whom you can learn a lot! Read her blog, follow her on twitter and donate to her work!

thekooriwoman

People treat you differently when you’re more than poor. I have been poor all of my life, but its not until the past year that I have felt more than poor. For the first time in my life, I understand what poverty is, not poorness, but poverty. And although my life has been lived mostly on the margins, I now live outside the margin and the only thing keeping me from homelessness is the house I rent that is a contributing factor to my headlong dive into poverty.

When you speak to people from companies on the phone and they realise your calling because you cannot pay, need more time, can’t just hand over your credit card details and sort the matter out, their tone changes, becomes a little more frosty, you are asked curtly to please hold while you are transferred to the – even icier tone – credit…

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Vote Yes Film – And You Can Be Apart of It

VOTE YES is a short film that hopes to contribute to the conversation about equality in Australia.

The Story

“It’s May 27, 1967 – Australia’s referendum on Aboriginal rights. Two women unite as a family come to terms with the prospect of change.

VOTE YES is a story that follows a family as they prepare to head to the polls. The power plays between black and white, male and female, are confronted as Susan and Elizabeth seek to go vote, in a family where Howard (father, husband and employer) literally holds the keys to opportunity and change. 

About the Film

VOTE YES is a short film by emerging writer/director Nick Waterman.

This ambitious and culturally significant project requires a further $20,000 to help complete the production of what is to be an important and politically powerful short film.

During 2014, VOTE YES will be screened by RECOGNISE to create awareness and support for the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This will include a special RECOGNISE media event, educational presentations at universities and schools, and worldwide film festival screenings.”

And from as little as $10 or as much as $5000 you can be part of making this film a reality, join the ever popular crowd funding movement and join in taking Australia another step toward equality http://startsomegood.com/voteyesfilm

On Public Breastfeeding

Embarrassed || Spoken Word by Hollie McNish

 

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