Rally for Justice for Mulrunji, noon, Wed Dec 20, Queens Park, Brisbane - prosecutor WON'T charge policeman who killed him
UPDATE: on Friday, January 26th, 2007, the Queensland Attorney-General announced that S/Sgt Chris Hurley will be charged with manslaughter over the death of Mulrunji.
Here are some pictures of the rally held in Brisbane on December 20th. WARNING: Mulrunji's nephews held signs with pictures of Mulrunji on them, so there are at least two photos with his picture.
Click here for a news roundup of the Palm Island and Townsville rallies.
All these pictures are on flickr, the photo-sharing website, so if you click on a picture you can see it in different sizes, see a map showing exactly where each photo was taken and download the pictures - they are free to use as long as you credit this website.
Click here to see the set of my photos on flickr.
You can also see seven photos from the rally here at FelixNavidad's flickr site.
Dave Riley of the Ratbag Radio Network has written a report on the rally - click here.
Margaret Wenham of the Courier-Mail reports that Alec Doomadgee, Mulrunji's brother, spoke at the Brisbane rally:
When the cousin of Mulrunji, Alec Doomadgee, took centre stage, the crowd roared their approval as he declared it was time for Aborigines to "stop playing the poor bugger me blackfella".
"Stand up and be counted," he shouted.
"It's time for us Aboriginal people to unite. We need to come together as an Aboriginal nation and stand up for our people ... and stop the injustices that have been happening for so long," he shouted.
Wenham also reports that Queensland Council for Civil Liberties VP Terry O'Gorman said:
"Day in and day ... ordinary citizens of this state have to go through to the agony of a jury verdict in cases prosecuted by the DPP where the evidence is 10 times weaker than the evidence appears with Mr Hurley."
Apparently, an Australian flag was burnt, and comedian Ernie Dingo was at the Brisbane rally.
If you are pleasant and friendly, and if you don't mind handing out some leaflets at the march to shoppers who are waiting for the march to pass them by on Wednesday, you could really help keep the Mulrunji story in the minds of the public.
I'm going to go up to shoppers and say "sorry to keep you waiting, we won't be long but this is really important, this explains what we're doing", and give them a leaflet. Will you join me?
If so, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or turn up to the rally. I'll try and say something quickly, and I will be wearing a T-shirt with a big orange question mark. I'll probably be taking photographs.
Please pass this message on to anyone you think might help.
Online Petition - Dave Riley has organised an online petition - click here to see it on his blog.
You can sign the petition, or download it and collect signatures to take to the rally.
On Wednesday, December 20th, 2006, people will rally in Queens Park, Brisbane City, and march to Parliament House, to demand that Leanne Clare be dismissed, and replaced with someone who will act on the evidence in front of them. Click here for more details.
Queens Park is on the corner of George and Elizabeth St in the city.
Click on the map for a bigger view of Queen's Park and Parliament House in Brisbane City. Powered by Google Earth.
Thu Dec 14, approx 1300 Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) A brief TV ad for National Nine News says that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley has got away with murder. He will not be charged, despite the coroner's report that names him as the killer of Aboriginal man Mulrunji.
Stay tuned for updates.
There is a planning meeting for the rally on SATURDAY, December 16th, 4pm at the Activist Centre, 74b Wickham St, Fortitude Valley.
All Aboriginal people and supporters are invited, to help prepare for and organise the rally and march. All hands needed!
1352 AEST - ABC online confirms Hurley will not be charged.
1405 AEST - I have sent this letter to the Courier-Mail. Please write a letter and send it too - the more they get, the more likely it is that a few will be printed.
Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley should have been charged with murder for the death of Mulrunji, at Palm Island two years ago. Instead, he will not face court at all.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Leanne Clare, has failed in her duty, and should be dismissed for cause.
How can anyone, black or white, feel safe now if a rogue police officer decides to attack them? I hope all those officers who love justice will keep a very close eye indeed on Senior Sergeant Hurley.
You can send a letter to the Courier-Mail by clicking here.
1414 AEST - The Australian confirms that DPP Leanne Clare has held a media conference in Townsville and announced no charges will be laid.
Click here for all the background, and a report of the rally held on November 18th last, which demanded that Hurley be prosecuted. I especially like what Adrian Walker said about 'policing the police'.
1510 AEST - WARNING - the article I link to here has a large picture of Mulrunji at the top of the page - The Age has an article which explains DPP Leanne Clare's reasons for not putting S/Sgt Hurley in front of a jury.
An ad for tonight's National Nine News has shown video from Ms Clare's public meeting in Townsville where she said Hurley won't be charged. The video shows her walking away from the meeting while an Aboriginal woman calls out something like 'They think they are going to get away with it'.
1618 AEST - The Courier Mail has comments about the decisions here and here. Please go and comment - keep them passionate but cool. We need to convince the middling people that this really matters.
You can read the one-page statement from the DPP here. WARNING - She refuses to use the name 'Mulrunji', and instead calls him by the name which he had before he died. This is against the express wishes of Mulrunji's family.
I don't always belive in tribal traditions and taboos, but there is no reason to offend the family by not calling the murdered man 'Mulrunji'.
(It is a custom of some Australian aborigines to not use the names of the dead, nor look at pictures of them. 'Mulrunji' is the name that the family has asked people to use.)
The coroner's report, which names S/Sgt Hurley as Mulrunji's killer, is here.
1705 AEST - Queensland Premier Beattie has 'called for calm', while Mulrunji's sister "Valmai Aplin said she was devastated by the decision not to charge Snr Sgt Hurley".
Hurley will also face an internal Queensland Police investigation, which will no doubt overturn this horrible decision and make sure he faces justice (spot the deliberate mistake).
1733 AEST - Senator Andrew Bartlett's blog has mentioned the story:
It is pretty obvious what sort of message the residents of Palm Island – and Indigenous people throughout Queensland - will get from the DPP’s decision, particularly when it is combined with harsher sentences for those convicted of rioting in response to the flawed initial Coroner’s finding. Not to mention combining it with the history over more than a century of a justice system that has failed to protect Indigenous people.
1850 AEST - This is a recording of National Nine News Brisbane's story tonight about Mulrunji. WARNING - the story uses the name Mulrunji had before he was killed.
It was the lead story and took up the first 4 1/2 minutes of the program. You'll need Flash installed to listen to the story. Press play to listen:
powered by ODEO
1934 AEST - I have just spoken to Sam Watson, a local indigenous leader, who says there will be a rally next Wednesday, December 20th, 2006, at midday in Queens Park, Brisbane City, marching to Parliament House. The rally will demand that Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare be dismissed immediately, because she has compromised the integrity of her office, which will cause enormous damage to the confidence of the Queensland community in the DPP.
Of Premier Beattie's call to 'respect the umpire's decision', Watson said 'this is not a game of cricket, its about the death in custody of an Aboriginal man'. He also challenged Ms Clare's claim that criminal responsibility could not be proved, saying that a 'first year law student' could obtain a conviction on the evidence gathered by the two coronial enquiries.
Speaking on ABC news tonight, Sam Watson said that when an indigenous person is arrested in Queensland, there is an 'even money chance' that he or she will be killed or assaulted.
There will be a petition to sack Ms Clare available online by Saturday. Link will be provided ASAP.
2123 AEST - WARNING - both links here use Mulrunji's name from before his death - Ken Parish at Club Troppo has written an article about today's decision. He has also quoted fom an online essay by Chloe Hooper called The Tall Man, from the Monthly magazine, about Mulrunji's death.
2258 AEST - WARNING - the first link (to The Spin Starts Here) refers to the surname Mulrunji had before his death.
The Spin Starts Here takes a cynical view of the Mulrunji decision:
In a tragic sequence of events, Mulrunji managed to split his own liver in two, rupture his own spleen and break four of his own ribs and pull Sgt Hurley down on top of him and propel the 201 cm tall policeman’s elbow repeatedly into himself several times, during a sixty minute orgy of self-violence...Generously, the Queensland DPP will not be posthumously charging Mulrunji with public nuisance.
LiveJournaler drjon (Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!) has also mentioned the story today - in fact, he has mentioned it twice.
2319 AEST - WARNING - There is a picture of Mulrunji, and his surname is used, in the first link to The Stupid News.
Marty at The Stupid News says:
I would not want to be a cop on Palm Island when the locals find out about this. Not for all tea in China.
Actually, come to think of it, those guys will probably have a ball. After all, they now have confirmation that they can kill black guys without fear of prosecution.
and MikQ at Think - Act - Think Again says that the decision is Just. Plain. Disgraceful.
0125 AEST 15 Dec - Mark Bahnisch at Larvatus Prodeo has posted an article about the Mulrunji story, and also wrote an article about the coroner's findings last October.
Captainflux has replied to drjon's LiveJournal post.
And there are 9 comments about this article at Melbourne Indymedia.
The Courier Mail has a story about how Mulrunji's fmaily have taken the news:
"When we heard the decision we just broke down and cried," Ms Aplin [Mulrunji's sister] said. "We feel like we're being treated like animals . . . we are just lost."
Meanwhile, the same article reports that lawyer Glen Cranny says his client, Snr-Sgt Hurley, "was yet to decide his future as a police officer, adding that his client was also considering possible legal action of his own."
You can see Cranny's shingle here, and this is a notice for a seminar he ran for the Queensland Law Society:
Inquiries and Investigations: Coronial Inquests, Royal Commissions of Inquiry, CMC & ACC Investigations
This seminar is relevant for legal practitioners and government officers likely to appear in a Coronial Inquest, Investigation or Royal Commission of Inquiry.
So this is not foreign to him at all. Even if the political will existed to charge Hurley, this brief sounds like a tough opponent. But why not have a go? Well, the Queensland Police Union is far too powerful for any serious player to cross. Basically.
0909 AEST - the ABC says Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough has said:
"So [Queensland Premier] Peter Beattie - please announce that this will be reviewed urgently in the interest of the family and the wider community."
This has raised at least one eyebrow - Mr Brough's Liberal (centre-right) Party is not considered a friend by many Aboriginal people.
The same article says that "north Queensland Indigenous leaders [including Gracelyn Smallwood] are calling for a national day of action".
Another ABC story from last night says that "North Queensland Indigenous leaders say they will appeal" the decision.
And The Australian has more of what Mulrunji's family has to say:
"I shouldn't have been surprised," said Tracey Twaddle, Mulrunji's former partner.
"I don't know what to do now. I don't know how we can get justice.", while Palm Island mayor Zac Sam said:
"We are just disgusted and shocked that this has happened. It seems as though there is one law for blacks and one law for whites...The law was not made for us. It was made to protect the people from us."
Meanwhile, the story has been noticed by blogger Angryindian at intelligent indigena.
WARNING - photos and previous surname of Mulrunji used at these two links: Bloggers Miss Eagle at Eagle's Nest and Troughboy have also noted the story.
There is also a media release from Socialist Alliance in the comments. Their site, and SA member Dave Riley, have been following the case for months.
1042 AEST - In the Courier-Mail, Member of Parliament for Townsville, Mike Reynolds, has said that the case should have gone before a jury. An article about S/Sgt Hurley says that the Police Union intend to 'appeal' the coroner's finding that Hurley killed Mulrunji. So much for respecting the umpire's decision when they don't like it.
1151 AEST - Malcolm Weatherup in the Townsville Bulletin writes about the way that black activists were expelled from the DPP's press conference in Townsville.
Noel Pearson, commonly said to be a 'conservative' black leader who is closely involved with Cape York Partnerships, says that the DPP is "damaging the public standing of her office", according to the ABC.
Brisbane blogger Tony Robertson has published a statement by Andrew Boe, the lawyer for the Palm Island Aboriginal Council., while blogger Iain Hall thinks the DPP made the right decision.
1456 AEST - The Bush Telegraph blog is promoting the rally, march and planning meeting, and also criticises the decision. There is also an open letter to Premier Beattie from October - you can still add your support to the letter.
1757 AEST - Blogger John Quiggin says in his post here:
this isn’t the first dubious decision made by Leanne Clare, and something of a pattern seems to be emerging. If you’re on the outer with the establishment (Pauline Hanson, Di Fingleton) dubious charges will be pursued to the limit. But if you’re on the inside, things are very different.
2315 AEST - Stuart Levitt is a "lawyer for the alleged riot ringleader Lex Wotton." [referring to violence on Palm Island in 2004 immediately after Mulrunji's death]. As well as disagreeing with the decision, Levitt says that:
Indigenous advocate service, the Errol Wyles Justice Foundation, would be commissioning a study next year into the Queensland legal system's treatment of Aboriginal people.
The story is from the AAP wire, published at the National Indigenous Times.
The Voice of Today's Apathetic Youth isnt: Palm Islanders screwed by DPP
Sunday December 17th 2006
I went to the planning meeting for the Queens Park rally (Wed 20 Dec, midday) yesterday afternoon.
Sam Watson spoke, first of all going through the story so far.
He reminded the meeting that DPP Clare controversially dropped child abuse charges against prominent swimming coach Scott Volkers.
[At the time DPP Clare said that, because the alleged victim said that she had experienced an orgasm while the alleged abuse took place, then she would not be credible in court.
It is, of course, not unknown for those being abused to experience arousal and/or orgasms, as a forensic physician told the ABC's 7.30 Report at the time. - ED]
Watson also mentioned the fact that public prosecutor Leanne Clare was responsible for pushing dodgy charges against Queensland Chief Magistrate Di Fingleton and controversial right-populist politician Pauline Hanson.
While Hanson is bitterly disliked by many Aboriginal people, Watson reminded the meeting that "You don't send a goose like Hanson to jail...jails are for people who commit serious offences".
Both the Fingleton and the Hanson convictions were overturned, in ways that showed either enormous incompetence or, at worst, malicious indifference to the law.
Watson told the meeting that S/Sgt Hurley was transferred to Surfers Paradise, where he owns $1.4 million in real estate, after the Palm Island murder.
How does a cop who works most of his career in indigenous communities own real estate worth $1.4 million? Watson called for Hurley's entire career in the Queensland Police Service to be investigated.
Watson said that the 'evidence supports a criminal charge of the highest order'. He called for DPP Clare to be removed from office, and said that Clare's 'close working relationship' with the Queensland Police Service should be investigated, as part of a judicial review of the entire case.
This review should be conducted, Watson said, by Tony Fitzgerald QC, who conducted the judicial enquiry in the 1980s that destroyed the Bjelke-Petersen National Party government by revealing its long-term corruption and closeness to senior police.
"Our role is to support the family and the Palm Island community", said Watson. "The family is hurting but staying strong".
Watson identified the core issue: the Queensland Police Union dominates the administration of the Queensland Police Service. The QPS, he said, has never once been held accountable by the Beattie government.
The Criminal and Misconduct Commission has been "totally compromised on a number of occasions"
"We won't put up with this apalling maladministration."
If neither the DPP nor the CMC will act, then "We'll have to".
Watson also announced two important dates for next year: January 26th 2007 will be Justice Day, and May 27th 2007 is the 40th anniversary of the referendum that, in effect, recognised Aboriginal people as citizens for the first time.
Watson announced that all permits and permissions for the rally had been obtained. The march will pass through major shopping areas of the city.
If you can help hand out leaflets to shoppers who are waiting for the rally to pass, please email me at email@example.com
There will also be a rally on the Gold Coast on Thursday. For details call Paul on 0410 629 088.
News from and about Palm Island.
John Andersen in the Townsville Bulletin, a News/Murdoch tabloid, reports that a civil case will be launched by the Palm Island Council against S/Sgt Hurley.
Andersen goes out of his way to report successful relations between acting Palm Island Mayor Zac Sam, and S/Sgt Paul James, current QPS officer-in-charge on Palm Island:
Cr Sam's taking the helm at an early stage has helped ease what might have been a volatile situation.
This has been eased by police maintaining a near-invisible profile and doing nothing that could be construed as provocative.
Andersen reports that the civil case will be conducted by Boe Lawyers, who have represented the Palm Island council before - you can see a resume of their work for the council if you click here.
Boe Lawyers' homepage says:
To achieve individual justice the system must sometimes yield and the state of the law must be tested. Some of our notable cases have sought to achieve this. They also demonstrate our innovation and flexibility and our capacity to look beyond what might appear to others to be accepted limits.
Andersen also reports on the grief of Mulrunji's relatives - WARNING, Mulrunji's name before he died is used in this story.
Elsewhere in the Townsville Bulletin, Selina Sharratt reports on Saturday's mayoral election on Palm Island.
The Sydney Morning Herald prints a story from the AAP wire about a community rally held yesterday on Palm Island:
The ABC also carries a report about the Palm Island rally - WARNING - link has a picture of Mulrunji.
Darrell Giles in The Sunday Mail (News Ltd) reports that Queensland Premier Peter Beattie will visit Palm Island 'as early as this week'.
News Ltd's Courier Mail North Queensland reporter Peter Michael reports the reaction of Mulrunji's sister Valmai Alpin, while the ABC's Message Stick quotes:
the coordinator of the Palm Island Men's Group, Robert Blackley, [who] says he expects an angry reaction to Ms Clare's decision.
"The public prosecutor just called me, I guess in my capacity as men's group coordinator, to inform me that no charges will be laid against Chris Hurley in relation to the death of Mulrunji and I'm pretty pissed off about that," he said.
Also, calls for a review of the case by someone from outside Queensland grow.
Federal Parliamentary Leader of the Greens Bob Brown, Brisbane indigenous leader Sam Watson, Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Mal Brough, Queensland Council of Civil Liberties Vice-President Terry O'Gorman and Cape York aboriginal leader Noel Pearson have all called for an interstate review, while the Palm Island Council wants the decision 'reviewed'.
Premier Beattie refuses to intervene, but has pointed out that the DPP can order a review if she so chooses.
Monday Morning December 18th - News from Palm Island
WARNING - stories linked to here may contain pictures or other names of Mulrunji.
Click on these pictures to see larger copies.
Palm Island is about 65km NNW of Townsville, the largest city in North Queensland.
Delena Foster has won the election for mayor of Palm Island Council, held on Saturday. She has insisted on answers from Queensland Premier Peter Beattie while calling for calm on the island. That is from a report by Dave Donaghy and Steve Wardill, published in News Ltd's Courier Mail and Australian newspapers.
The Magnetic Times reports that Magnetic Island elder Ms Christine George, who was born on Palm Island, said:
“Nothing has really changed. There are numerous instances of Aboriginals being incarcerated for minor crimes and receiving punishments that didn’t fit the crime. There doesn’t seem to be any consideration for the situation Aboriginal people are currently in.”
Shelina Sharratt in News Ltd's Townsville Bulletin says:
TEARS and raw emotion flowed freely as more than 150 residents, both black and white, packed a Townsville church to discuss the 'way forward' in the wake of the DPP's decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over the death in custody of Mulrunji...
The two-hour long meeting heard addresses from aboriginal lawyers, activists and non-indigenous community members.
Tuesday 19 December - recent news
The ABC reports:
Mulrunji's family seeks legal advice over DPP decision
Brad Foster, a spokesman for Mulrunji's family, says there will be a community meeting to discuss the issue.
"Wednesday's open discussion with the mob over on Palm Island is a peaceful coming together, working out what the solutions are, how do we deal with those solutions," he said.
"We'll let the people know from a brief from our barrister about what position we'll be taking as a community in relation to the response that the DPP has now brought out."
Mr Foster says Queensland Premier Peter Beattie is invited to attend the community meeting.
In the Courier-Mail, Peter Michael and Roseanne Barrett's report suggests that Mr Beattie should not accept the invitation:
PREMIER Peter Beattie has been warned to stay away from Palm Island or risk "stirring up a hornet's nest" ahead of a national day of protest.
Senior police, island councillors and the family of death-in-custody victim Mulrunji yesterday said the Premier's proposed visit, likely to take place tomorrow, was ill-advised.
"He should just stay away," said sister Valmai Aplin, speaking on behalf of Mulrunji's family.
Warren Mundine, Aboriginal man and National President of the Australian Labor Party, is to address a Palm Island rally this week, reports the ABC.
A longer article by The Australian's Patricia Karvelas and Sean Parnell reports Mundine's words:
ALP national president Warren Mundine is to lead protests on Palm Island this week, saying he is "fed up" with the failure of the state Labor Government to deliver justice over the 2004 death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee...
"What an insult to Aboriginal people that this cop is going to continue working," Mr Mundine said yesterday.
"If the law fails people then the law needs to change. The politicians are out of step with the general Australian community on this."
Meanwhile, Col Dillon, "one of Australia's most highly decorated Aboriginal police officers says he is resigning from his Queensland public service role over the State Government's handling of the Palm Island death in custody.", reports the ABC, which also tells us that "The federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) has joined the criticism of the decision not to charge a Queensland police officer over a death in custody on Palm Island."
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