Patricia Morton Thomas, aunt of Kwementyaye Briscoe, remonstrating about being locked out of the meeting.
The new government’s grappling with alcohol problems is off to a chaotic start.
Deputy Chief Minister Robyn Lambley called a meeting of “stakeholders” – excluding the media and the public.
The meeting was set down for a 10.30am start in the town council’s Andy McNeill Room, a confirmed booking, according to council staff, but none of the organisers turned up.
Shortly after 10am the Central Land Council’s Michael Liddle and David Ross – both of them invitees – turned up at the Andy McNeill Room to find it locked.
Soon after the council received a call from Ms Lambley’s office saying the meeting had been moved to the government-owned Greatorex Building.
The meeting room was under heavy guard, several plain clothes police and three private security guards, keeping out everyone not possessing a written invitation.
The heavy security notwithstanding, Patricia Morton Thomas (pictured) was remonstrating at the top of her voice in the foyer, supported by about 20 other relatives and friends of Kwementyaye Briscoe, her nephew who died in the Alice Springs police cells in January.
Ms Lambley’s meeting had been called, in part, in response to a recommendation by the coroner investigating Mr Briscoe’s death, saying that the government needed to commit to “all available, reasonable measures to reduce the supply of excess alcohol from take away outlets”.
Ms Morton Thomas said the police should be held to account for Mr Briscoe’s death and three other deaths in custody in the past few years.
The Alice Springs News Online asked Ms Morton Thomas what his family had been doing to help Kwementyaye Briscoe during the 10 years when he was drinking heavily and had been taken into protective custody 31 times.
She said: “The family went to the police asking for help, went to the Aboriginal organisations asking for help, we’ve gone to everybody.
“Don’t put this on my nephew, because this state is very, very sick.
“You’re trying to put this on the family and it’s not going to happen, because the family are not responsible for treating my nephew like shit.
“This town is, and the policies that these politicians are putting into place ensure that all Aboriginal people feel like they are the lowest on the ground.
“Everybody knows, you treat somebody like dirt, how are they going to be acting?
“This is not the fault of Aboriginal people.
“In the 1980s when we were screaming out for the CLP government to be responsible in their issuing of liquor licenses they didn’t listen to us.
“They just went around handing out liquor licenses like they were lollybags.
“This is their fault. It is not the Aboriginal people’s fault, it is this bloody government’s fault.
“And see this behaviour, this drunken behaviour, this is what we have learned from the Australian culture which is based on alcohol.”
The government will be holding a media conference this afternoon.