• Kumanjayi Walker's cousin Samara Fernandez speaks at the Adelaide BLM rally. (Sia Duff)Source: Sia Duff
The family of Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker who died after allegedly being shot by a Northern Territory police officer in November last year has called for major changes to address systemic problems in the police force.
By
Rachael Hocking, Aneeta Bhole

Source:
NITV News
25 Jun 2020 - 4:15 PM  UPDATED 25 Jun 2020 - 5:26 PM

Walker's family were back in Alice Springs Local Court today where they heard there were more delays to the murder case against NT Constable Zachary Rolfe. 

The matter was adjourned again for the collection of evidence and the finalisation of a witness list.

A preliminary mention has been set down for August 14, but a committal hearing is yet to be confirmed.

Rolfe's lawyers have said they will not be commenting on the matter at this time. He intends to plead not guilty. 

It follows a ten-week period since the matter was last in court - a delay which was in part due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the collection of medical evidence.

Yuendumu elder Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves, who appeared on behalf of the family and community and is the Chairperson of the Warlpiri Parumpurru [Justice] committee, said while he understands the delays the community are anxious to see justice served. 

"We want to get it over and done with, but this isn't our system," he said outside the Alice Springs Local Court. 

"We are so anxious. We can't wait; we want justice."

Across the globe, thousands have rallied in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which sparked from the death of African American man, George Floyd, who was allegedly killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month.

The movement has spurred rallies across Australia focused on police violence and Aboriginal deaths in custody. 

Mr Hargraves said the movement has strengthened the communities calls for systemic change.

"I strongly feel I'm with them and we think it's significant to see others standing united against this cause," said Mr Hargraves. 

"We feel like we are not alone, we feel like every yapa, which means Indigenous person, feels like they can be united.

"The whole system needs to change, there can't be a law for kardiya, white people, there's got to be a law for yapa too, that's why we're finding it so hard I must say this we're living in a racist world it's got to stop we got to come together somehow and work it."

The recent national rallies heard statements read out on behalf of the family and community in Yuendumu and saw signs with the Warlpiri translation for Black Lives Matter: Yapakurlangu Warnkaru Matters". 

Speaking from Adelaide, Kumanjayi Walker's cousin Samara Fernandez told NITV News that while the renewed attention on her family's campaign for justice had brought up trauma, it was also an opportunity to force change.

"In 2020 we shouldn't be gathering for basic human rights," she said.

"You'd think it's common sense to have a system that works equally for all populations... we want the system to be re-invented in a way that doesn't have those stereotypes towards our people, that doesn't criminalise our kids at a younger age,

"As a governing body and as the leader of a country, you'd be really silly and arrogant not to use this to fix the issues that are being faced... I feel like you have a responsibility to listen to the people." 

Among the community's calls is a reignited push to see the removal of guns from remote Indigenous communities. 

"I'll say it again and again. We want no guns, not just in Yuendumu but across central Australia and also other remote communities," Mr Hargraves said. 

"People having guns is not our law; it is not our culture."

Senior Warlpiri Elder Harry Jakamarra Nelson backed that demand last Friday while speaking on a panel marking the 13th anniversary of the Northern Territory intervention ordered under then prime minister John Howard.

Speaking about the series of restrictions introduced under the intervention - including banning alcohol, quarantining welfare payments and the compulsory leasing of land in remote NT communities - Mr Nelson blasted what he labelled an "occupation" of their lands. 

"The biggest lot of money ever spent on Yuendumu was more than 7 million dollars to build a new police station," he said.

"We have more police than ever, and more people in jail than ever. The welfare mob keep taking children away and don't respect our extended families. 

"We want our local council back, we want our houses back, we want police to respect us and stop wearing guns."