Nationwide Protests Held After An Officer Was Acquitted Over The Death Of A Yamatji Woman In WA

Red ochre handprints lined the walls of courthouses as part of #JusticeForJC demonstrations.


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Rallies took place across the country on Thursday after a Western Australian police officer was acquitted of shooting dead a 29-year-old Yamatji woman, JC.

The high profile case saw an unnamed first-class constable found not guilty of murder or manslaughter last Friday, with the fully non-Aboriginal jury reaching their verdict in just three hours. To this day, no police or corrections officer has ever been held accountable for an Indigenous death in custody.

“This has been a devastating outcome for the family of JC, what’s been demonstrated during this trial is how racist and fundamentally flawed the justice system is,” founder of Dhadjowa Foundation, Apryl Day said on Tuesday. “It’s a difficult reminder that unless things are addressed and adequately changed our people will continue to die at the hands of the state.”

Back in September 2019, JC was shot in her hometown of Geraldton after she was found holding a kitchen knife and scissors on a suburban street. The junior officer, who claims it was self-defence, had fired his gun just 16 seconds upon arriving on the scene, and without permission of his superiors. Advocates told the ABC they believe the system failed JC by not providing her with a mental health care plan, or assistance with housing upon her prior release from prison.

An estimated 200 community members showed their support in Geraldton, while in NSW and Perth, protestors painted their palms in red ochre, and planted their handprints on the walls of the Supreme Court and Parliament House respectively.

“I loved her smile, loved her attitude the way she was. She left a little boy behind as well as her brothers and sisters,” Bernie Clarke remembered of her sister. “She was a good girl who just needed help, she needed help from mental health and from the government when she was taken away from her mother.”

JC was a mother, sister, daughter, aunty, and cousin.

Since the 1991 Royal Commission into the matter, over 470 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody.