NT indigenous want end to police brutality
Indigenous Australians have demanded police stop brutalising them as more than 1000 people protested in Alice Springs over the shooting death of indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker.
Politicians have called for calm after the shooting on Saturday of Mr Walker, 19, by a police officer who was trying to arrest him in his bedroom at Yuendumu, 300 kilometres from Alice Springs.
NT Police Constable Zachary Rolfe, 28, was on Wednesday charged by his own employer with murder and granted bail to face court in Alice Springs on December 19.
The decorated officer and former army member who served in Afghanistan is suspended with pay and flew out of Darwin and was expected to go to his parents in Canberra.
Constable Rolfe had made it clear he would plead not guilty and "vigorously contest the charge", NT Police Association President Paul McCue said.
He and his family had the complete support of the NTPA, he said.
Many of those marching were indigenous Warlpiri people who had travelled from various remote communities, including Yuendumu, following similar demonstrations in Darwin, remote NT communities and Australian capital cities this week.
The NT Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Ken Fleming QC, who has oversight over the NT Police investigation into the shooting said at the rally, "One of the most important messages today is 'Black Lives Matter'."
Emotions are running high among indigenous people asking why police could not have subdued Mr Walker in other ways - such as a Taser - with his death a flashpoint for anger over police treatment of Aboriginal people, including deaths in custody.
Yamatji woman Joyce Clarke, 29, was shot dead by police at her home in Geraldton, Western Australia in September.
Three decades after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and subsequent deaths, "we are yet to see a person held accountable", National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services chair Cheryl Axleby said.
"This is the racism we are often subjected to when being dealt with by police ... for far too long Aboriginal communities have been subjected to quite brutal police force, particularly at the time of arrest," she told ABC.
Officers were arresting Walker for breaches of the terms of his prison release last month, having served eight months for property and stealing offences.
The officers had body-worn cameras, footage from which has been viewed by police internal investigators.
Northern Territory Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker urged people to embrace each other and to "forget hate".
There is also anger among some rank-and-file police officers over the laying of a murder charge against Constable Rolfe so quickly, with speculation it was politically motivated and was to appease the national protests.
Mr Chalker rejected that, saying the NT Police process would always be "free of political influence" while he was in charge.
"Through every single one of those tragedies, the members of the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services have been there running towards that trouble to protect you.
"I need more than ever all of my officers to step to the fore, to trust in one another, to trust in the process, to remember the oath they took and the importance of integrity, ethics and fairness."
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said it was his priority to try to make sure the Territory goes through the healing process.
"The community of Yuendumu is in a lot of pain right now. It is a priority that they are supported to return to normal, to make sure kids are going to school, they have the healthcare they need, they are receiving critical services," he said.
© AAP 2019