Saturday, November 8, 2008

Symbolic Injustice

So Lex Wotton escapes with a six year sentence with parole as early as 2010 for his part in the riots that besieged Palm Island in the wake of Mulrunji Doomadgee's death while in police custody!!!

The police officer, who at the time of Mulrunji's death, had a duty of care towards his prisioner and whose actions were hidden from view, escapes any condemnation either of the law or of his professional body.

There is an interesting parallel here that should not escape us.

While Wotton's anger at what he perceived as another injustice in the long and painful history of this island was exposed on the media's cameras no such privileged was in the offing for Mulrunji who died behind the thick walls of the police institutional mechanisms.

Some actions, it seems, are protected by institutional processes and go unseen and unpunished, while other spontaneous and less calculated actions are exposed for all to see and become yet another manifestation of neglect and political disregard for one group of Australians over many years.

All actors here, both Indigenous and Police are victims of an unfortunate history both on this island and in Australia as a whole, however there is a clear difference of power between these actors - a power that often results in the death of the less powerful while in the control of the "authorities".

While policing institutions appear to be free from recrimination and while those that are supposed to serve the community act in such ways against the most marginalized, these undercurrents of injustice will not abate.

Palm Island is a microcosm of the relationships that often exists between the marginalized and the policing authorities and the imbalances of power produced by our social processes.

(Of interest )and

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