After a NSW Parliamentary Committee into the high levels of First Nations people in custody tabled its findings and 39 recommendations today, activists held a speak-out with the overarching message that justice would be won by the people and not the state.
The inquiry was established after thousands took to the streets in June 2020 at the height of Black Lives Matter movement, and handed down its report on the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
The proposed reforms include an end to “police investigating police,” recommending that the Law Enforcement and Conduct Commission should instead investigate deaths in custody.
First Nations leaders, families, and non-Indigenous groups gathered at Henry Deane Plaza outside the Central Station tunnel at sunset to give speeches which drew the attention of passers-by.
Gomeroi woman Glenda Stanley cried out: “How many more recommendations do we need?! How many more Senate inquiries do we need until this government of Australia understands that the biggest murderers in this country are them boys in blue?!”
Stanley criticised the government for “picking and selecting” Indigenous people who “sell out” their communities, saying that the Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt is not the “voice or representative” of grassroots movements.
“Wipe that Senate inquiry on your arse because it’s a piece of shit paper. There is no justice and there will be no peace. We guarantee the Black liberation of this country will rise with us,” she said.
Dr Chelsea Watego, a Munanjahli and South Sea Islander woman, told onlookers that when they went to Parliament today, they were told that their Black Lives Matter shirts were a “protest statement” and must be covered before entering the house.
“When you look at the recommendations they offer … you will find not one mention of race, racism or racial violence,” she said.
Tameeka Tighe, who is a Gomeroi and Dunghutti woman, gave an emotional speech expressing “it is so painful to be here today, so painful… I am sick and tired of seeing my people die. We don’t even need to commit a crime in this country to die at the hands of the police anymore. It’s been 250 years of oppression, when does it fucking end?”