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Rally for TJ marks ten years of protest

REDFERN: The cries for justice over the tragic death of Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey on February 14, 2004, have been undermined by the actions of an outside group with its own agenda. The future of the commemorative rally, it seems, is now in jeopardy.

Nikki Hickey, TJ's sister, with protestors on February 14 (Photo: Claire Mahjoub)
Nikki Hickey, TJ's sister, with protestors on February 14 (Photo: Claire Mahjoub)

Rally organiser Ray Jackson, president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), was “offended” by a small group of protestors whose members “were not there to support the Hickey family in any way”.

Up to 200 people attended the rally and march from Waterloo to Parliament House commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of TJ Hickey and calling for an independent coronial inquest. However, offensive banners, abusive language, and misconduct directed at police from some in the march violated an agreement between the organisers and police.

While Redfern Commander Luke Freudenstein admitted there were “other factions who like to come in and cause trouble” he said that “this year we were going to try and stop it and go to the Supreme Court but I had a mediation meeting with Ray Jackson and he gave me his word that a number of things wouldn’t happen which happened last year.

“The word was broken and he dishonoured his signed agreement. It would be extremely difficult to negotiate and to trust Ray Jackson or a member of the Indigenous Social Justice Association again,” he said.

While Mr Jackson agrees that there were some issues during the march, he believes that “the events arising from [the] march have been grabbed by police and mutated into a reason for shutting the march down”.

The events led local Aboriginal leaders Mick Mundine and Mick Gooda to visit Redfern police station to reaffirm their support for the police and assure them that the offensive views of those in the march were not a reflection of the wider Aboriginal community. “I just went there to show that the relationship between the police and the Aboriginal people is much better than it was before,” Mr Mundine said.

Protestors were unified in their support for the Hickey family, as TJ’s mother, Gail Hickey, continued her call for justice. “I will not stop till I get what I want. I want the plaque on the fence [in Waterloo where TJ was thrown from his bicycle and fatally injured], I want a new inquest … and I want an apology.”

The family has been denied the installation of a memorial plaque because the police object to the mention of a “police pursuit”. The Coroner’s inquiry found that there was no police pursuit, however many are unsatisfied by the findings as they feel vital evidence was overlooked and key witnesses not called.

“We need to stop police investigating police,” Greens MP David Shoebridge announced to the protestors. “What other organisation in any part of our society would we accept [that from] … when an organisation you believe is at fault is the organisation that does its own investigation? We won’t get justice while we have police investigating police.”

Despite police views, Mr Jackson remains strong in his resolve, declaring that the march will go ahead next year. “As long as Gail Hickey and her family wish to march, we will march with her,” he said.

See also Comment by Councillor Irene Doutney: Protest ‘peaceful,passionate and very moving’

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