Speakout for Lex Wotton – 22 September

A speakout called by the Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne in support of Palm Island man Lex Wotton, facing charges in connection with alleged “riot” following the death in police custody of Mulrunji.

Banner and placards on steps of GPO - Justice for Mulrunji ... Stop Indigenous Deaths in Custody ...

The following report is taken from the archive of Sydney Indymedia (there is also video on YouTube:

Drop the Charges Against Lex Wotton! – Melbourne Speakout
Posted September 23rd, 2007 by Anonymous

Drop the Charges Against Lex Wotton! – Melbourne Speakout

The Indigenous Social Justice Association—Melbourne called a speakout in support of Lex Wotton on Saturday 22 Sept 07 at the old GPO to coincide with a rally being held at the same time in Redfern. As well as speeches from some of the groups supporting the rally, there was a message from Sam Watson, Indigenous activist and Senate candidate for Queensland. Watch the YouTube video.

Text of leaflet issued by ISJA:

[quote] Day of Action

Defend the Right to Oppose Racist State Brutality! Stop the Racist Political Persecution of a Palm Island Aboriginal Resident!

Drop the Charges Against Lex Wotton!

On November 2004 the Palm Island Aboriginal community responded to years of racist state violence and the death in police custody of Mulrunji with a defiant demonstration demanding justice. The immediate trigger for the protest was the release of the first state inquiry into Mulrunji’s death that, while noting that he had suffered a ruptured liver and four broken ribs, whitewashed the death as being the result of a “scuffle.” Finally, almost two years after the death, a second Coronial inquiry in September 2006 confirmed what everyone already knew: that on November 19, 2004 at the Palm Island police station Senior-Sergeant Chris Hurley had struck Mulrunji with such force that it caused the Aboriginal man to die.

Four hundred people took part in the 2004 Palm Island anti-racist action – over 10% of the entire island’s population! The large demonstration marched upon the centres of racist injustice on the island – the police station and courthouse. Queensland authorities responded with vicious repression and singled out individuals for persecution. Nearly 20 people were charged. Charges against someof those targeted were dropped in 2005. In March this year a jury acquitted a further four Palm Islanders of charges of “riot.” But the state continues to target respected Palm Island man, Lex Wotton, whom they allege was the leader of the protest. They have outrageously singled out Wotton with a charge of “riot with destruction,” a charge that could lead to a sentence in excess of ten years.

Far from being a “riot”, the November 2004 protest was a completely justified act of anti-racist resistance. The struggle, like the Redfern resistance nine months earlier, brought the question of state racism in Australia to national and international prominence. It was a big factor in why, in this one case from Palm Island, a policeman who was responsible for the death of a black person incustody had to face court (unlike in hundreds of earlier Indigenous deaths in custody). The fact that the courts recently acquitted Hurley is once again confirmation of how stacked the legal system is against Aboriginal people and how justified it was for the people of Palm Island to stand up to the institutions of this racist system in November 2004.

The state’s attempts to jail Lex Wotton are aimed at intimidating all future opposition to racist persecution. Today, federal and state governments are trying to scare people away from responding to the whitewash of Mulrunji’s killing and want to frighten people away from resisting the draconian intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. Everyone who has an interest inopposing racist violence and in standing up to all forms of exploitation and oppression — Aboriginal people, working class people and anti-racists of all colours — must stand for the dropping of the charges against Lex Wotton. His court case is scheduled for 7 April 2008. Help build the movement to have these racist political charges dropped.

Speakout Saturday September 22, 1pm* Steps of the Old GPO, corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets

*To coincide with a rally around the same demands on The Block, Redfern

Called by Indigenous Social Justice Association — Melbourne Supported by Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (Vic), Latin American Solidarity Network, Ongoing G20 Arrestees Solidarity Network, Alliance for Civil Disobedience Coordination, Socialist Alliance (list in progress, to endorse e-mail alison.thorne@ozemail.com.au)

For more information: called Alison on 9388-0062 or Cheryl on 0401 806 331 [end quote]