The Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne organised a picket at the Melbourne headquarters of global security giant G4S, parent of GSL, which amongst other things provides transport of prisoners. On 27 January 2008, an Aboriginal elder from Warburton, WA, Mr Ward, was arrested for allegedly drink driving. “He was charged with one count of drink-driving and taken to the local lockup. He was then driven 570 kilometers to a courthouse, remanded in custody and driven a further 352 kilometers to a prison.
“As they approached the prison it was noted that he was unconscious. He died shortly after. He was Aboriginal. His death can be added to the eight black deaths in custody in 25 days in the Northern Territory already this year. If eight white teenagers died in custody in Victoria in 25 days there would be uproar.
“When wealthy white businessmen and sporting personalities are picked up for drinkdriving, they are charged and then allowed to go home. We know that some of them
have been abusive and non-compliant but they are still not locked up. Why was this man transported nearly 1000 kilometers in over 40-degree heat for a similar charge? It will likely be more than a year before a coronial inquiry. An apology is long overdue as is equality and justice for Indigenous Australians.”
(The Age, Feb. 2 2008, Letters: “Justice long overdue”, Pamela Curr)
The protest was in two parts: first a number of speakers, including a relative of the dead man, then Alison Thorne of ISJA read a statement of demands and invited those present to accompany her up to the offices of the company to present the letter, since no-one from the company had responded to her invitation to come down to the picket.
To view footage of the delivery of the letter, click on the above image.
Extracts from the speeches should be available soon.*
There is extensive coverage of the death of Mr Ward on the Safecom website.
This protest was held at the request of Mr Ward’s family, and coincided with a protest being held at the Perth office of GSL. Today was also scheduled as the final day of the inquest being held into the death of Mr Ward.