The State Government of New South Wales has again ignored calls to apologise to the family of TJ Hickey despite a loud and angry protest by about 700 friends and supporters.
The protest march to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of TJ Hickey was marked once again by his mother, family, friends and supporters calling for justice, a call for rights and a call for an apology for the actions of police which led to TJ’s tragic death in Redfern in 2004.
Courtesy of The National Indigenous Times – by Geoff Bagnall
However, the State Government has remained silent and efforts by TJ’s family to have a plaque erected on the fence where he died continues to be denied them by New South Wales police.
Gail Hickey, whose 17 year old son was impaled on a metal spiked fence while being pursued by police, said the 10 years of denial by the police and successive State Governments, was not the end of her struggle.
One of the centrepieces of the rally was the bike TJ was riding on the day he was impaled. After 10 years it remains in perfect working condition but only Gail Hickey said, because the police had all the damage they did repaired before they would return the bike to her.
“That’s the actual bike,” she said holding it in front of her. “When I went to the police station to pick it up the back wheel was buckled and the chain was broken. When I went back to pick it up at Surry Hills later on, the wheel was put on the bike and the chain was fixed up,” Gail Hickey said.
So the Hickey family remains resolute. It is justice they want and they will fight until they get it.
“I will not stop till I get what I want,” Ms Hickey said. “I want the plaque on the fence, I want a new inquest to be opened and I want an apology. I will not stop till I get those three things,” she said.
Hundreds of supporters from the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities gathered at the fenceline where TJ was mortally wounded to support the Hickey family’s call for justice and to then march on the Redfern Police Station and on to State Parliament.
The rally was met by a massive force of police in what NSW Greens MP, David Shoebridge described as “extraordinary” over-policing.
“Well, I think the over-policing is extraordinary. You only need to look around, we’ve got police horses, we’ve got police bikes, we’ve got a response squad inside the parliament, we’re surrounded by a wall of police so it is an extraordinary response given the size of the rally and the fact that it’s been peaceful for 10 ten years,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“I do think that when you’ve got this rally that is a concern about the police treatment of Aboriginal people that we need to name this and speak about it when it happens.”
“Why do we have such a big police presence here and all through the parliament? I had to work my way through a crowd of police in parliament to get out here to speak with the protest group.”
“The only reason there is such an overwhelming police presence here is because this is a crowd of Aboriginal people asking for their rights, for having the temerity to come out here on the streets and ask for justice.”
“It needs to be named, it needs to be highlighted that you don’t get this level of police oversight unless you’re in the Aboriginal community,” he said.
TJ’s aunty, “Bowie” Hickey told the crowd the Hickey family and the community were being “treated like terrorists” when it was the police who “murdered TJ”.
“The system is treating us like we are the terrorists, especially by the police, by the system, by the judges, by the screws.” she said. “I’m not a racist person but this country is.”
“Enough is enough! We have done nothing wrong, you murdered TJ we didn’t, leave us alone,” Bowie Hickey said.
That charge of “murder” was supported by Rodney Mason who lived on The Block when TJ died. Mr Mason told the rally that he knew from his first aid training and, he said, the police also knew too that you don’t move an impaled person.
“You leave them there until the paramedics arrive. They cut the fence with an angle-grinder and remove it in hospital,” Mr Mason told the rally.
“But the police pulled TJ off the fence and let him bleed to death. They murdered him.”
Human rights researcher and National Indigenous Times reporter, Gerry Georgatos was asked by the organisers to fly from Perth to address the rally, an invitation he could not refuse.
Mr Georgatos told the rally he had spent 30 years fighting racism and it was worse now than in all that time.
“As I made my travels through many, many communities, whether in western Queensland, whether in the Arnhem, Yolngu Country, the Pilbara, the Kimberley, the Western and Central Deserts, I’ve seen many social ills but what I’ve seen is things have got worse than what they were 20 and 30 years ago in these communities,” he said.
“In this country we have horrific rates of deaths in custody compared to the rest of the world and to countries of equivalent social wealth.”
“But I follow something my father taught me; that if we can get it right for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, stand alongside them and support them, we get the justice right for everybody,” Mr Georgatos said.
President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, Ray Jackson told the crowd the rally was to be interspersed with five two minute periods of silence to make up one minute’s silence for each of the 10 years since TJ’s death.
“If you think two minutes of silence is a long time, try 10 years of silence,” he said.
Listen here to Gerry Georgatos’ six minute speak outside Redfern Police Station.