Ten years and no justice for TJ

I will not stop until I get what I want. I want the plaque on the fence. I want a new inquest re-opened and I want an apology from the NSW government

Gayle Hickey, TJ’s mother


Dave Clarke Redflag 17 February 2014

On Friday 14 February 300 people gathered to demand justice for TJ Hickey. Ten years ago, the Aboriginal teenager was impaled on a 2.5 meter high fence by the Redfern police. To this day not one police officer has been charged or held accountable for the murder.

The crowd heard speeches from the Hickey family, Aboriginal leaders, community members and elders as well as former Guantanamo bay detainee Mambouh Habib, Greens NSW MLC David Shoebridge and South African anti-apartheid activist and founder of the African National Congress Australian chapter Kolin Thumbardoo.

“I will not stop until I get what I want. I want the plaque on the fence. I want a new inquest re-opened and I want an apology from the NSW government”, said Gayle Hickey, TJ’s mother.

“This family has received no justice and they are continually harassed by the police. We’ve been calling for justice for 10 years and I don’t care how long it takes, I know that Gayle and others will continue to call for that justice”, said Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association president and rally organiser. “TJ was impaled on that fence after he was rammed by Redfern police vehicles - we know that, the police refuse to know it, the coroner didn’t want to know it and the government wanted it all covered up. We have to keep on fighting because if we don’t, if we stand still we are going to have more [lives] taken away.”

Bowie Hickey, TJ’s aunt, capture the defiance and resilience of the Hickey family; “In the last ten years we have been harassed by everyone you can think of. The system is treating us like we are the terrorists ... My daughter lies in bed all night long scared. I thought she had Meningococcal. We got to the hospital and I asked the doctor what’s wrong with my little baby. He said, ‘It’s stress.’ How can a five-year-old child be stressed? I’m not a racist person, but this country is, especially the police, the system, the judges. Enough is enough.”

The crowd marched off, chanting “Too many cops, not enough justice!”

One hundred police were mobilised for the rally. Before it had even begun, Redfern was swarming with them. Their presence was designed to intimidate people -- especially Aboriginal people.

At every turn they tried to shorten the march, they even threatened that the march would not go ahead. Their racism was on clear display. Protesters were also attacked.

Outside Redfern police station David Shoebridge, Greens member of the NSW parliament, pointed out that, “Every year the police presence for this rally increases … What other family needs to get permission from the police before they have a memorial for their lost son on the grave or site in which their child died? No other family.”

Outside Central Station, Mamdouh Habib spoke of being denied basic human rights in the name of Australia’s “national security”. Kolin Thumbardoo drew the links between South African apartheid and Australia today. A member of the Redfern community expressed his anger at the police. “We were all bashed by these pigs when we were all teenagers. Them and the corporate crooks they serve are the real enemy ... T.J was the poster child. It wasn’t a riot in Redfern. It was a community protest. We were standing up for our rights against the pigs who treat us like shit”.

Protesters marched to the NSW Parliament where hundreds of TJ plaques were placed on the perimeter fence. Ray Jackson ended the rally by saying; “I had to sign the form for today’s march, and I will do it next year and the year after, or as long as it takes. We will keep on fighting for justice for TJ and all other deaths in custody, regardless of who is in power”.

Dave Clarke is a member of Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), who organised the rally.