Footage of a confrontation between police and a group of Indigenous teenage girls has caused tensions in the small community of Glen Innes in the NSW Northern Tablelands after parents allege they were handled “unprofessionally.”
At the start of the video, which has been watched by over a hundred-thousand people and shared over 1200 times at the time of writing, a female police officer can be heard telling a group of girls that they were all under arrest.
“We’ve been told that you’re all fighting so at the moment you’re all under arrest until we take you back to the station and interview and find out what’s going on,” she said.
A male officer also in the video can be heard saying to the girls, “this is what it’s come to girls, we’re sick of this shit.”
The police arrived at the school after an altercation between an Indigenous girl and a non-Indigenous girl.
After the fight between the teenagers, the school lockdown procedure was initiated, which is usually only associated with a serious incident like attacks by outsiders.
One of the parents told NITV News the girls were instructed to leave the school while the lockdown procedure was on. The police arrived shortly after.
In the video, one of the young girls tells the officer that they are all under 16 and that they needed their parents to be present.
The officer replies, “I don’t care, I don’t care.”
The officer then says to the girl, “I’ll tell you what, if you don’t go into the back of the truck I’ll put you in head first ok, that’s what’s gonna happen.”
The parent said that his 15-year-old daughter called him while the police were there because she feared for her own safety.
“What we saw there that day as we pulled up, was like a scene from a movie like Rabbit-Proof Fence or a scene out of Australia of how black people was treated by the white man,” he said.
He also claimed the police were extremely “unprofessional” and alleged that the male officer kicked his niece while she was on the ground.
“The way that he [the male officer] handled the situation and the way that he threatened my niece was very unprofessional behaviour. Him and the female office lied and said they only pushed my niece with one finger," he complained.
“The screams were in fear and terror. When we got there we had fear in our eyes. As a parent, it was very upsetting for us.
“Talking to them like a bunch dogs, it was like a scene of a movie, absolutely horrible.”
Peter Kemp, a solicitor from Armidale in mid-north NSW, told NITV News the video indicated that the girls had been arrested for the purpose of investigation.
“From a legal standpoint, the arrest is only lawful if the police have reasonable ground to suspect that each person has committed an offence.”
In a statement from NSW Police, they said they had arrested 13 people, including 10 girls, following an alleged intimidation at a high school in Glen Innes.
“Officers from New England Police District were called to a high school in Edward Street, after a 14-year-old girl had allegedly been threatened with assault.
“It will be alleged in court the school was placed into lockdown before police arrived."
One of the parents alleged the girls were released after the incident because three cars of parents arrived to confront the police.
Police said they were continuing their investigation into the actions of the 10 girls, aged between 12 and 17, and a personal violence order had been made.
The NSW Department of Education said the safety procedure was initiated to ensure students’ safety during an emerging issue.
“When behaviour may be illegal, or students choose not to comply with the school’s direction, police may be notified and the school will co-operate fully, including supporting any action they consider necessary.”
The 10 girls involved in the incident have been suspended for twenty days for not following instructions, according to a parent.