Nationwide protests after WA police officer acquitted of murder of Yamatji woman JC

Rallies have been held in Perth, Geraldton, Sydney and Canberra after a Western Australian police officer who fatally shot Aboriginal woman JC in 2019 was found not guilty of murder.

Protesters at a rally for JC in Perth.

Protesters at a rally for JC in Perth. Source: SBS News/Aaron Fernandes

Protests were held across Australia on Thursday after a Western Australian police officer who fatally shot an Aboriginal woman was found not guilty of murder.

Family of Yamatji woman, JC, who was killed by a police officer in Geraldton in 2019, were among around 200 protesters who gathered at Western Australia’s parliament house in Perth.

JC’s sister Bernadette Clarke, who attended the three-week trial in Perth this month, spoke at the rally.

"We want justice for JC in a proper manner. She deserves to be resting in peace. I want the world to know that we never got justice in a fair way," she said.

JC's sister Bernadette Clarke spoke at the Perth rally.
Source: SBS News/Aaron Fernandes

Rallies were also held in other Australian cities, including Geraldton, Sydney and Canberra.

"Everybody is angry and broken as much as my family is broken. Our hearts bleed, their hearts bleed. We are one as a nation (of) Aboriginal people," Ms Clarke said.  

The 29-year-old mother was killed by an officer, who cannot be identified under a court order protecting his identity, on 17 September 2019, after a member of the public reported seeing her carrying a knife on a suburban street.

Eight officers arrived at the scene and one officer drew his firearm and shot JC in the abdomen. The officer was found not guilty of murder and not guilty of manslaughter and may return to duties in the Western Australian Police Force. 

Demonstrators painted red hands on the steps of WA's parliament.
Source: SBS News/Aaron Fernandes

The trial heard that JC had extensive mental health and substance abuse issues and recently been hospitalised for a psychiatric assessment.

The demonstrators issued a list of demands, including for an independent body to investigate Aboriginal deaths in police and prison custody as well as increased funding and support for Indigenous-lead community programs. 

Megan Krakouer said her organisation, the National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project, was working to establish a class action to hold governments across Australia accountable for Aboriginal deaths in custody.

A large police presence including around one hundred uniformed police officers were at the march. Tempers flared briefly when police prevented the demonstrators from approaching parliament house.

Around 100 police flanked the march outside parliament house in Perth.
Source: SBS News/Aaron Fernandes

TV personality and Yamatji man Ernie Dingo joined the protest, which saw demonstrators paint red hands and 'Black Lives Matter' on the steps of parliament. 

JC’s sister Bernadette Clarke says her family will continue to campaign in the wake of the not guilty verdicts. 

"I want this not to happen to anybody else in this world. We need it to stop. We need to feel safe in our communities around police, around hospitals. In the shops in the streets. We’re feeling very uncomfortable with the outcome of not guilty," she said.

Published 28 October 2021 at 7:57pm
By Aaron Fernandes
Source: SBS News