By ERWIN CHLANDA
Our 12 minute documentary video will take you there. Meet the people.
The massive rally in Alice Springs yesterday to express anger about the alleged murder of 19-year-old Kumunjayi Walker had few light moments, but Elder Otto Sims, pointing at the Supreme Court building, got bitter laughs when he described it as a replica of the Endeavour, the ship of Captain Cook.
What must be the biggest demonstration the town has ever seen was mostly a chilling manifestation of the fury and distrust harboured by Aboriginal people – not only Warlpiri – for the police, the justice system and white governments generally.
What happened on the night of the shooting was taken up in detail by several people close to the events but cannot be reported now that the matter is before the courts.
There were angry demands that the accused police officer to be tried outside the Territory, or at least in the Yuendumu community – neither of course being likely.
Speakers found it incredible that someone charged with murder has not been remanded in custody – unheard of for a blackfeller suspect, they repeatedly said.
It will only add salt to the wounds when people see today photographs of the accused arriving in Canberra, his home town. The police, its union and – unbelievably – the courts, where the accused was bailed in an out-of-session hearing, are continuing the charade of not naming him, notwithstanding that the national media has been calling him Constable Zachary Rolfe for more than a day.
And if the widening collapse of trust amongst Aboriginal people in the Territory’s system of governance requires any further proof, it is provided by the reported trashing last night of the Willowra police station, some 300 kilometres north of Alice Springs.
The Gunner government lost the plot when it pulled its entire health staff out of Yuendumu for two weeks over safety concerns, instead of increasing measures for their protection – as much as it takes.
Independent Member for Stuart Scott McConnell earlier raised the question: Would the Chief Minister close the hospital, its ambulance service and every single doctor’s clinic in Alice Springs?
Our video shows that the government and administration’s performance in the bush will be under the microscope, as Ken Fleming, the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption personally assured the crowd yesterday.
He especially raised questions about the health services, as did Federal Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon, while being opposed to another Intervention.
That subject came up repeatedly, with Warlpiri woman and former CLP politician Bess Price, seen to represent it, being howled down at the rally.
The graphic comment below is from artist Rod Moss. The life-long footy fan was present for the duration of the three-hour long protest – about a third of the crowd was white. Mr Moss says only at footy matches has he seen more people coming together in town.
Rod Moss: And Themis Moved Across The Land, 2019. Themis is usually depicted carrying the Scales of Justice. Here they are already missing.