From a media release issued by the organisers, ISJA and Socialist Alliance:
Hurley verdict a travesty for Aboriginal people
“Death of justice in Queensland”
“The acquittal of Snr-Sgt Chris Hurley – despite him admitting he caused Mulrunji’s death, despite him changing his story, despite overwhelming medical evidence likening Mulrunji’s fatal injuries to a high-speed car crash – is the lowest point in Australia’s judicial system for Aboriginal people,” said Aboriginal leader and Socialist Alliance Indigenous spokesperson Sam Watson, in response to the not guilty verdict in the manslaughter trial of Hurley.
“The police rallied around their own, fixed their story of ‘a complicated accident’, and the 12-member non-Indigenous jury agreed,” Watson continued. “This jury decision has sanctioned the unlawful death of an Aboriginal person in police custody.”
“The fact that the life an Aboriginal person was worth less than four hours consideration by the jury reinforces Townsville – named after one of the last slave owners Robert Towns – as a centre of anti-Aboriginal prejudice.”
“We extend our sympathy and love to the family and community on Palm Island – they will need healing time. But around Australia, the Aboriginal community and non-Aboriginal supporters will rally and continue the struggle for justice. We make a promise to the family of Mulrunji and all families who have lost loved-ones in custody – Hurley and all police will be held accountable. There must be justice for all – whether you’re born in Brisbane or on Palm Island.”
“The Jury verdict ended one process, but the struggle for justice continues,” said Watson.
An Indigenous rights demonstration planned to march on State Parliament at 1pm this Friday in protest at council amalgamations, will also take up the ongoing fight for justice for Mulrunji, with a minute silence for the ‘death of justice in Queensland.’
Watson and other Aboriginal leaders have called for massive national protests on July 14, NAIDOC day.
“At end of day, all we ever ask is that those who are taken into custody come out alive, but in Queensland, this appears to be an impossible ask.”
(For an abridged version of this speech, see Green Left Weekly.)