Activists inciting racial division and hatred have disrespected a grieving family’s wishes for calm and peace while investigations into the death of an Aboriginal man shot by police continue.
Jacinta Price has been forced onto social media to urge restraint from jumping to conclusions following the death of her nineteen-year-old nephew, Kumanjayi Walker, after a police shooting in the remote Indigenous community of Yuendumu, 293 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs last Saturday. Speaking on behalf of the family she advised they were “waiting to understand the circumstances around his death.”
Warning against turning the incident into a witch hunt against police, Price explained, “People need to understand that his grandfather was a highly respected police officer when he was alive and his father’s brother is a police officer in the community of Yuendumu.”
NT Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Michael White alleged an armed man had lunged at two officers who had attended a residence with an arrest warrant to apprehend him for breaching his parole conditions, stabbing one of them on the shoulder. One officer fired two or three shots.
There were no medical staff in the community because they had evacuated just days earlier following a series of break-ins to their accommodation. An ambulance arrived some hours after the shooting from another nearby community.
“The key thing for me now, the focus is making sure the community is engaged as much as possible and provided as much information as we can provide to them, to allay some of the fears, to ensure there is no misinformation getting out there to cause further harm,” said Acting Deputy Commissioner White. “There’s always rumours. There’s always misinformation.”
Jacinta Price shared a live video from outside a Northern Territory police station on Sunday afternoon where shameless activists were exploiting the tragic incident to promote their political agenda and racist narrative, some smearing red paint over the station. Five police officers calmly blocked the entrance.
Posted by Jacinta Nampijinpa Price on Saturday, 9 November 2019
“You are kardiya [white], this is not your family, and you need to go away,” Jacinta told a person with blonde hair, white skin and painted red hands wearing an Aboriginal flag activist t-shirt and holding a sign which said, “We want justice.”
“You’re not going to be at his funeral. And neither are you,” to another white person who also had painted red hands holding a sign which said, “NT Police: stop killing Aboriginal people.”
Scores of people who made personal grooming choices like they were late for Woodstock milled around a public space carrying other hastily hand-made signs, including “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land,” evidencing their opportunistic feeding frenzy around the chance to stoke racial hate and division. One toted the obligatory megaphone.
“It’s not your family and you’ve got no shame,” Jacinta reiterated. “Go away and let Aboriginal people deal with it instead of you mob always interfering. You’re the ones that are yelling, that are causing division within our community. We’re the ones that are grieving – this is our family, not yours. You mob are only interested in jumping up and down and creating a bloody circus.”
Largely indistinct, angry screaming was the dominant response from the agitators, exacerbated by the cheap amplification. One black woman demanded “Where are the politicians,” ignoring the fact that Jacinta is an elected Alice Springs City Councillor as well as a family member, and Bess Price, a former Northern Territory parliamentarian and minister, was also there, being shouted down by their demonstration.
Jacinta flipped the camera as she walked away and commented, “This is what happens when protesters get hold of a situation that doesn’t even belong to them. We’re a grieving family and there’s no respect being shown for the fact that we would like to get to the bottom of this situation without division in our community being created.”
“They’re jumping on the bandwagon and using this situation for their own political means, and here we are, grieving in this situation and trying to get to the bottom of it,” she continued, visibly choking back tears.
“I’m sick of protesters in my community. Sick of protesters using Aboriginal people and our circumstances for their own political means… But what are they doing? What are they doing?”
“These are the people that are using and abusing Aboriginal people. They’ve got their fifteen minutes of fame – that what they wanted. But it’s my nephew that we’ll be burying in a couple of days. And they think they’re doing good.”
“Well now you know what it’s like living in a place like Alice Springs where you’ve got jerks that jump on a bandwagon and create a circus for their own political means.”
“We need to solve our own problems, instead of hijackers coming along and getting involved in our family’s business, screaming like a banshee as if that’s gonna get her anywhere, as if that’s gonna make any bloody difference whatsoever.”
Bess Price can be heard at this point explaining to other interested people that they do want justice for their family, “But I just want peace and calm, ay.” Jacinta added, “We’re already dealing with enough violence. We need to keep calm.”
Jacinta concluded her Livestream with, “I’m not gonna be part of this circus any longer. I’m not gonna be part of it, these people that just wanna jump on a bandwagon, the typical same old, same olds. They come along and protest. They’re not there, they’re not involved in our everyday lives. They’re not there to put our family members into body bags. They’re not there to ID our family’s bodies. I’m done with it.”
Later, Jacinta Price reported an update on a public meeting her family had with Police back at the remote community of Yuendumu. Though the family expressed sadness and anger, the meeting was conducted respectfully. According to Price, the family is all of the understanding that an investigation is already underway and are working with police to put the pieces together.
Addressing Yuendumu residents, Acting Assistant Commissioner Travis Wurst explained body camera footage would be reviewed so the community would know the truth.
“We did not want this to happen,” he said.
The deceased man’s uncle, who is also a police officer in that community is working tirelessly to support the family while they seek answers. Price concludes, “In these sad times we want for peace in our communities as we seek justice.”
Earlier today, Price had a simple, unambiguous request: “Calm is all we ask while we seek answers.
It’s hard to not feel her grief and that of her family, and nor should such feelings but pushed down. But it’s also not hard to feel her anger at the exploitation of her family’s grief and tragedy by shameless activists for their own hateful agenda.
The decent thing to do would be to respect the family’s prayers for peace, calm and patience until the truth is made plain and just outcomes can be determined.
If only the opportunistic protestors were decent people.
Note: Ms Price posted the below on her Facebook page late on Wednesday evening:
Dave Pellowe is a speaker, writer and political commentator and blogs at PelloweTalk.com.
Illustration: LibertyWorks/Jacinta Price.
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