Deaths in custody a ‘terrorist act’

CRAIG THOMSON

Karen Fusi speaks to the media during the Black Deaths in Custody protest at the Roma Street Parklands.

Karen Fusi speaks to the media during the Black Deaths in Custody protest at the Roma Street Parklands. Photo: Cory Wright

Aboriginal deaths in custody are a “terrorist act” against Indigenous people, an Aboriginal elder told protesters in Brisbane today.

The passionate comment during the Aboriginal deaths in custody rally, was among a number of fiery speeches which seemed to match the heat of the blazing November heatwave.

Addressing the crowd of more than 300 protesters, Aboriginal elder Lionel Fogarty gave an emotional Welcome to Country and said one death in custody was one too many.

“Today we have a world audience to say that deaths in custody are a terrorist act against Aboriginal people,” he said.

“Aboriginal people should unite and take strong political action against governments.”

Speakers at the Roma Street forum told their personal stories of loss, and spoke frankly about the bitterness they hold towards police, the court system and the lack of real justice for their loved ones.

Tensions ran high as one speaker after another described the death of their brothers and sisters in custody as being an open wound.

Turning to spirituality to help them ease the pain, some of the protesters broke into a traditional song which calls the dead back to their loved ones.
Protestors block to perform traditional dance an intersection near Roma Street station as part of the Black Deaths in Custody protest put on by the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy at Musgrave Park.

Protesters block to perform traditional dance an intersection near Roma Street station as part of the Black Deaths in Custody protest put on by the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy at Musgrave Park. Photo: Cory Wright

The protesters found strength in the belief that those who died in custody were with them during their action today.

As the march began the crowd started chanting, “They say justice, we say murder”.

Police kept a tight cordon behind, beside and in front of the protesters, and as the two parties discussed keeping the protest peaceful, the police reminded the activists of their promise not to let the march get out of hand.

In a show of goodwill one protester, who declined to be named, offered his hand to a police officer and said, “We are alright and you guys are alright, there won’t be any trouble today.”

Senior police liaison officer Shane Plumber said he did not expect any trouble at today’s protest.

“Today is a nice day for people to get out and about. Our job is to break down barriers between the police and the community and be here if the community needs something done today,” he said.

The protest wound its way from Roma Street to Musgrave Park without incident.

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