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Palm Island death: Police stand condemned

Veteran journalist Alan Ramsay takes no prisoners in his writing for the SMH. He is craggy and clearly a gad-fly. In one of his best pieces for quite some time in the SMH, yesterday, he deals - no holds barred here! - with the shameful, tragic and appalling death of an aboriginal man on Palm Island as a direct result of police brutality.

"Three days ago, in a crowded Townsville courtroom, with 11 lawyers at the bar table, Christine Clements handed down her findings after 17 days of inquest hearings spread across 18 months. The findings run to 23,000 words. They tell a terrible story of brutish attitudes and the further degradation of public life in this country."

And:

"Clements found, in part: "It is a terrible tragedy that such a minor incident could lead to a man's death in custody. Mulrunji cried out for help from the cell after being fatally injured, and no help came. The images from the cell videotape of Mulrunji, writhing in pain as he lay dying on the cell floor, were shocking and terribly distressing to anyone who sat through that portion of the evidence. The sounds from the cell surveillance tape are unlikely to be forgotten by anyone who was in court and heard the tape played … "

Read this distressing episode in the way the white community "deals" with its aboriginal peoples. We are all shamed and the poorer for it having happened and our continuing inaction in remedying the situation of our aboriginal communities and people around the country.

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