Footage has surfaced of a Northern Territory Police officer physically and verbally abusing a young Aboriginal man in Alice Springs watch house.
The footage, recorded in March 2018, documents the officer’s behaviour towards a group of Aboriginal boys between the ages of 12 and 16 who were arrested for stealing a vehicle.
The officer in question both physically and verbally abused a young man taken into custody.
The boy is between two officers and told to remove an item of clothing, he mutters: “Every day bro. I’d smack you in the head every day.”
The officer, a non-Indigenous man, then shoves the boy into a counter and twists his arm behind his back.
“What’d you say? Did you threaten me?” he said.
“Every day? Every day? Today is your day, you little c**t. Don’t f**king put off for tomorrow what you can do today.
“You can’t f**king do it, can you? Because you’re a little c**t. That’s all you are … f**king waste of space.”
The officer then addresses the other boys.
“Sit the f**k down,” he said.
“Threaten a police officer in a f**king police station, get knocked the f**k out.
“Anyone else want to be f**king smart? I’m right in the mood to f**king lose my job tonight and I don’t mind losing it over belting the f**k out of one of you little c**ts.
“Do you understand me? Good. When you’re given an instruction, you follow it and that’s it.”
Another boy is subject to similar physical abuse moments later.
NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker addressed the footage in a press conference. He said it was a “sad reflection” that attention was being paid to the footage as opposed to the high rates of domestic violence.
Commissioner Chalker described the event as a snapshot of where the police don’t always get it right.
“I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus here — I think the footage speaks for itself,” he said.
“Anybody who views that with a level of sympathy and empathy and who’s prepared to walk in the footsteps of police who’ve been there and done that will have a greater level of understanding that, at some point in time, things just get too full.
“It’s a sad reflection to see something that’s two and a half years [old] get the prominence that it has.
“Particularly in the backdrop of where I’ve been talking quite frequently about the continuing rise of alcohol-related assaults and the extra money that’s out there, and how Aboriginal females remain victims of crime at such high levels.”
The event was recorded six months after the end of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, which began in response to footage surfacing from Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.
Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe and Arrernte writer Celeste Liddle condemned the behaviour on Twitter.
“Anxiety, depression, oppression, sadness, every day reality for this Country’s First People,” Senator Thorpe wrote.
“I am so angered by this disgusting racist policing, when will this end.”
Anxiety, depression, oppression, sadness, every day reality for this County’s First people.
I am so angered by this disgusting racist policing, when will this end.
Police investigating police is a criminal act itself. FTP!!!!! https://t.co/Jv49AWYf4U
— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) December 13, 2020
“All NT Corrections officers should lose their jobs until they learn how to not abuse Aboriginal children. Which means, they should never get their jobs back and the NT Government should look at alternate forms of justice,” wrote Liddle.
All NT Corrections officers should lose their jobs until they learn how to not abuse Aboriginal children. Which means, they should never get their jobs back and the NT Government should look at alternate forms of justice.
— Celeste Liddle (@Utopiana) December 14, 2020
Investigative journalist and domestic violence advocate Jess Hill joined their calls.
“Imagine the terror of being in a room with armed and powerful men who sound completely unhinged, knowing that they can do anything they want,” she wrote.
‘Police officer threatens to ‘belt the f***’ out of Aboriginal teenagers in Alice Springs watch house’ – Imagine the terror of being in a room with armed and powerful men who sound completely unhinged, knowing that they can do anything they want. https://t.co/zg9ZXjOo79
— Jess Hill (@jessradio) December 14, 2020
By Rachael Knowles