• The teenager's family addresses the media. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The family of the teenager who had his legs kicked from underneath him by a police officer in Sydney say they want to see justice for the 16-year-old and attention brought to the injustices Indigenous people face every day.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
3 Jun 2020 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 3 Jun 2020 - 4:45 PM

The family of a teenager who was kicked to the ground by a NSW Police officer say want justice for the 16-year-old.

The family, who asked not to be named, told NITV News on Wednesday that it felt wrong for the NSW Police Commissioner to say the officer must have had "a bad day" when he was filmed arresting the teenager at a park in inner Sydney.

"That must be one day for him. Every day is a bad day for Aboriginal people," said the teenager's father.

"Our kids have to put up with a lot of this. Every day, every year, from year to year we have this. We're struggling with mental health, we're struggling with employment and that's us, we're living on that day to day survival.

"He thinks he's got just one day. That's bloody wrong. 

"We need to see one day of freedom. We need to see one day of calm amongst us in our spirit but they won't allow us to have that.

"Give us a day of freedom without being harassed, without being assaulted. Give us that day, give us that day that we need."

The teenager's father said the incident has taken a toll on his son and the whole family.

"He's resting up now," he said.

"I'm feeling tired myself for the past two days. I don't know what his true feelings are. He's probably got a lot of things going through his head and a lot of things that need to be answered.

The teenager's father said watching the video of his son being kicked to the ground by the officer brought up memories of being hassled by police in his youth.

"It's brought up a lot of anger and frustration because of what I had to go through," he said.

"We'd be picked out, for not going to school. We were picked on for being just who we are.

"It's brought up a lot of ill-feeling, the prejudice that is rife now. I thought it would be gone by now. Back in my time that's what happened."

'I'm afraid'

The teenager's mother made an emotional plea for an end to racial prejudice and said she felt afraid of "the whole process". 

"Everything around us makes us feel inferior, or we're not better, or there's a reason that we're not cutting it. I've had the experience of dealing with lots of suicides - eight youth suicides in my community - we need to be careful of the things that our young people are carrying with them when they're trying to make a start in life."

The 16-year-old's older sister said she hopes this can be a turning point in the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the police, particularly in the inner-city area where this occurred.

She described the incident as "disgusting", saying it had the potential to end a lot worse for her brother if he had fallen a slightly different way,

"To see that, we're all just feeling anger that we can't express and sadness that we live in a society where this stuff is normal," she said.

The family drew comparisons to what happened to the teenager and the protests in the US, following the death in custody of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

The family took a knee in solidarity with protesters in the US, and also drew attention to the long history of black deaths in custody in Australia.

"This is not acceptable," the teenager's sister said.

"No child should ever have to feel targeted by the people employed in the community who are meant to protect and create a safer environment for all.

"Children hanging out in the local park are entitled to have a childhood and they should not be treated like criminals and experience anything such as he did.

"We acknowledge and stand in solidarity with those in the world who have experienced police brutality and racism and what is happening in America has been happening in Australia for a very long time. 

"We aren't inciting fear or violence by telling our stories. We are shedding the light again on the way Indigenous people are treated.

"This isn't the first time something like this has happened with our people. Maybe this time people will listen and take action."

'Rotten system'

Human rights lawyer and director of the National Justice Project, George Newhouse, is representing the family and said they wanted to see charges laid against the officer and an end to police investigating police.

Mr Newhouse said the family is also asking what is happening with the other officers present at the scene of the incident. 

Mr Newhouse said it should not be up to families affected by instances such as these to 'fix' the system.

"We've heard the Police Commissioner say that this incident was caused by an officer having "a bad day". That's wrong. This is systemic.

"It's systemic and if that's the attitude of the Commissioner, then the systemic problem starts at the top."

If charges are not laid, Mr Newhouse said the family will pursue private proceedings.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said the incident was representative of a much wider problem.

"What we saw shocked a lot of people who aren't familiar with the reality for First Nations peoples," he told NITV News.

"If you listen you will hear that this kind of routine police brutality is the daily reality in far too many First Nations people's lives, and it plays out in statistics that we no longer want to hear.

"This may shock many but what should be shocking is that this is so normal."

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