Police using Tasers for wrong reasons (thewest.com.au 4 October, 2010); the headline screams out from the screen as I stumble onto yet another instance of police brutality against Aboriginal Australians in the west.
Yet again the chorus of racists from Yahoo! raise their voices in unison. In the story nine of Western Australia’s finest surround an unarmed Aboriginal man already in custody and taser him thirteen times. Such bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. Obviously a few police commendations to be had for that action!
So what has Yahoo! got to do with this story? Well, glad you asked! This is one of those handpicked stories that their editorial staff open up all too often to Australia’s chorus of red necks, racists and just downright vile xenophobes.
Without going into too much detail, it is worth quoting from Wesferal – an enlightened soul if ever there was one – who made the following observation in the comments opened for this article, on what can only be described as being the actions of sado-racists:
You can’t tell me that these coppers didn’t know they were being videoed, that being the case I am sure that they felt justified in tasering this criminal as many times as they had too. Give them a break and let them do their job. (12:50pm Monday 04th October 2010 WST)
All of a sudden the victim is a criminal. Why? Because he is in police custody, because Wesferal witnessed him commit a crime or because he is Aboriginal – probably a combination of 1 and 3, which makes these issues worth analysing in some more detail.
If you the reader take the time to look at the statistics under the tab ‘Racism in Australia-the facts’ on this blog, you will note that I have been collecting statements from ATSI Australians who have been victims of human rights violations in Australia.
Apart from the Australian Federal Police (ACT Policing), the biggest human rights violators against ATSI Australians is the West Australian Police Force, representing nearly one third of all complaints even though Western Australia accounts for only about 17% of all ATSI people. Why the disproportion? I would suggest that the answer lies in the entrenched and systemic culture of the Western Australian Government and Police Force where an ideology of xenophobia and racism not seen since the days of apartheid in South Africa holds sway. Interestingly the Australian Capital Territory is the only Australian jurisdiction that has a worse record in terms of race relations than Western Australia.
Given that ATSI people are subjected to a disproportionate level of human rights violation in Western Australia, can we assume that just because an ATSI person is in police custody in the west that he is a criminal? Again I would suggest that this question should be answered in the negative.
What is it in the Australian psyche that makes people like Wesferal hold the views that they do?
The short answer is the entrenched nature of anti-Aboriginal racism in Australian culture. The longer answer is that these views start from the top and filter through society. The Northern Territory Intervention is a classic example, the decision to send the military into Aboriginal communities to protect them from the ravages of alcohol and pornography – both European imports – can only reinforce the already pervasive negative stereotyping that all ATSI people experience on a day-to-day basis in Australia.
When a senior Public Servant in the ACT Department Treasury can write a letter to the Chief Executive of Treasury stating that all Aborigines are “… lazy thieves and liars unsuited to hold public service positions …” and not face any reprimand, is it any wonder that people like Wesferal think that it’s all right to express similar views on an international news website.
Enough is enough – the nine true and brave upholders of the law of the west need to be brought to account for their actions. It is only through ensuring that ATSI people receive justice that the rest of Australian society will realise that the age old sport of ‘Abo-bashing’ is no longer acceptable.
Justice not only has to be done, it has to be seen to be done. That is the reason I am attempting to bring these issues to the attention of the United Nations. Abuse of this nature is an everyday occurrence if you’re an ATSI Australian and is something that should be a matter of national shame, not something to take pride in!