The empire strikes back! – Police threaten industrial action

ABC online “Police ‘furious’ over Palm Is decision”

The Queensland police union is threatening industrial action to protest against manslaughter charges being laid against Chris Hurley for the killing of Mulrinji in the Palm Island watch house.  TV reports today and last night have suggested that action could take the form of withdrawing police from indigenous communities as well as marching on parliament.

A selective strike targeting Aboriginal communities is a clear breach opf racial discrimination laws and would lead to the union getting into hot water in the courts if they go down this road.  But apart from the legal stupidity of such a campaign I hope the police do exactly that as it would give a priming boost to Aboriginal communities to begin their own self policing programs which many Aboriginal leaders are calling for.  It is a fine paradox indeed to hear Murundoo Yanner calling for all police to leave Aboriginal communities and now the police union is threatening to do exactly that.

The police union has advanced the cause of Aboriginal Australia by politicising the manslaughter charges and building a political campaign around the policing of Aboriginal communities.  A prolonged fight by the police will for sure create a major crisis for the Bjelke-Beattie government and it will have to respond one way or the other – back down to the police or follow this crisis into its logical next step – to review how Aboriginal communities are policed and institute change.  The police union providing an active participant in this dispute will surely provide plenty of oxygen for the growing fires of outrage being fanned by Aboriginal people and their supporters.

This new offensive by the police union is sure to expand the public debate from what happened in the Palm Island watch house in 2004 to a broader discussion of how Aboriginal communities are policed.

Even  the supposedly culturally sensitive Murri court system that is being expanded in Queensland will have no effect on incarceration or death in custody rates as it does not remedy authoritarian, racist and brutal work practices by grass roots cops in grass roots communities.

It is futile to tinker with the court system when the primary agency of institutionalised racism that leads to the extremely high Aboriginal incarceration and death in custody rate is the police force itself.  Murri court simply streamlines the prosecution, sentencing and criminialising of those who the police choose to arrest.



Filed under justice

4 responses to “The empire strikes back! – Police threaten industrial action

  1. Interesting that the Police Union are saying that police should be removed from Aborginal communities where they are not wanted, while simultaneously saying that police stations on communities are understaffed and under-resourced, and “none meet the recommended guidelines set by the Aboriginal deaths in custody inquiry.” So even the police are saying the Royal Commission recommendations haven’t been implemented.

    In a complete shock, the Premier says it is not his fault, and “the level of police on indigenous communities … is entirely the matter for the Police Commissioner.

  2. Derek Hanks

    Tribal law……. hmmmmmm……

    will this mean incidents like the Commuity Police Officer (employed by the council, NOT the Queensland Police Service) who stomped a person to death at Pormpuraaw because of threats increase?

    Your attitude and comments reflect your bigotted way, its your way and you wont accept anything else.

    If Hurley is found not guilty, will you and your supporters accept that decision? I doubt it.

  3. Calibrator

    Beattie was on ABC 612 radio Brisbane on Monday and he said”

    “Most of the RCIADIC recommendations have been implemented”

    Very few listeners would know that there were 339 recommendations and that Palm Island watch house would failed everyone of these recommendations if inspected.

    I find the post and the poster Derek Hanks typical of those whose long hatred of anything Aboriginal is now under threat and being called into question. He names one incident (and highly fictitious at that) to justify his own bigotry.

    Despite being a law abiding Aboriginal person I can name more negative than positive interactions with police throughout my life than white Australians.

    Do I look like a criminal to police? What does a natural born criminal look like to Queensland police? Please explain this Derek?

    The charging of Hurley is not only legally sound, it is morally just.

    For the first time in Australia police have been revealed to be as culpable before the law as anyone else.

    For the first time after hundreds of Aboriginal deaths in custody a policemen has been found responsible and charged.

    At last, we the Aboriginal people cannot be fobbed off and accused of crying wolf.

    It must be said that Aboriginal deaths in custody were [and are] an acceptable and expected part of how many white Australians understand Aboriginal lifestyle and mortality.

    This kind of thinking is deeply rooted in the “soothe the dying pillow” philosophies of how white Australian think about themselves and how they are quick to accept Aboriginal death as ‘inevitable’ and beyond intervention.

    Clearly to many the death of Mulrunji is more acceptable than the charging of Hurley.

    Laurence Street has [perhaps unknowingly] declared that this kind of thinking is morally corrupt and destructive and racist.

    Finally, I’m reminded of the Hughes Mearns (1875-1965) rhyme every time someone in the government, the DPP or Queensland police union make remarks about this case. This rhyme illustrates how denial, forgery and truth are able to cohabitate and collaborate in one place at any given time. And ironically it speaks directly to the reasoning of those who believe Mulrunji died “accidentally”. He did not.

    Mearns’ rhyme goes:

    “Yesterday upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there.
    He wasn’t there again today
    I wish I wish he’d go away”

    RIP Brother Mulrunji.

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