Community members yesterday gathered outside the Supreme Court of NSW as part of a national call to action for JC, a Yamatji woman who was shot by a police officer in 2019. On Friday, the police officer who shot and killed JC was acquitted and rallies were called across the country in response.
The event was chaired by Lizzy Jarrett, who read out a statement and media release from JC’s family. The powerful statement was authored by Anne Jones, JC’s mother, who explained that “the verdict on Friday has been devastating for my family.” Jones also noted that “even though the fatal shooting was caught on CCTV footage, [the officer] was able to walk a free man from the Geraldine police station within hours of killing my daughter” because “police are protected by the system which fails our brothers and sisters nationwide.”
Jarrett explained the structural problems of the trial, as the family of JC are left without justice. “[We heard] from an all white jury that her murderer can walk free, and her family can live with the pain for eternity.”
Kyah Patten strongly criticised the system that creates the conditions for Aboriginal deaths in custody: “This system has been set up by criminals… to keep us down and defeat us.” Patten is the niece of Eddie Murrary who was one of the first deaths in custody investigated by the Royal Commission. “Same story, different timeline,” said Patten.
Other speakers included Bruce Shillingsworth, Paddy Gibson and Raul Bassai. Gibson reflected on the need for thousands of people to come out in support of the Stop Black Deaths in Custody campaign, as they did last year. Bassai called for people to attend the 11 November rally and march for Mark Mason, another Aboriginal person who died in custody.
To conclude the proceedings, Jarrett guided all attendees to dip their hands in a bucket of red Ochre and place a handprint on the glass walls of the Supreme Court. The handprints covered the Supreme Court, representing the blood on its hands.
The event had a COVID safety plan in line with current restrictions and it was physically distanced. A minute of silence was held in memory of JC.