Aboriginal Rights Coalition
Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs

Media release: 188 taken into custody in Alice – raids linked to intervention

Media release 7/4/08 – For immediate release

ABC news is reporting that 188 people were taken into custody in Alice Springs in a “special operation” targeting alcohol consumption and loitering on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th of April. Police have been given increased powers under the NT intervention.

Police have said arrests focussed on youth who, “might get up to no good” and linked the operation to increased numbers of Aboriginal people in public spaces in Alice Springs. Activists argue people are being pressured into town due to intervention measures.

“Politicians like Alison Anderson say people are welcoming the intervention. So why are so many now in town, homeless and jobless?”, said Barbara Shaw form Mt Nancy Town Camp in Alice Springs.

“Large numbers of young people are getting stuck here now, and caught up in substance abuse. There is more petrol sniffing. Police have all these new powers to punish people – where are the resources for rehabilitation? Arresting people will only set their lives back even further”.

“Taking more Aboriginal youth into custody will lead to increased suicide. How many non Aboriginal youth were taken into custody in Alice Springs last week for loitering? This is clearly Apartheid. How are people supposed to pay their fines when half their incomes are now on ration cards”, said Greg Eatock from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition in Sydney.

“This legislation and government action is a form of terrorism used specifically against our people. They are entrenching racism with these actions” said Vince Forrester, a Mutitjulu elder who has travelled to Sydney as an ambassador from Uluru and Kuta-tjuta to speak out about the Northern Territory Intervention.

“The Police in the Territory, especially in the remote communities, are acting like Cowboys” said Vince today. “I have had a shotgun pointed at me by police as part of a clear strategy of intimidation” he said.

“Alice Springs now is full of many people who, because of ‘welfare quarantines” cannot afford to get back to the bush. Only certain shops in town can accept the invasion tickets (food vouchers), and these same supermarkets are making big profits by selling alcohol for any remaining cash. They exercise no duty of care while it is the Aboriginal people who are being punished” he said.

For more information contact:

Vince Forrester 0423686281
Greg Eatock 0432050240
Barbara Shaw 0401291166

Vince Forrester will be speaking further about the negative impacts of the Northern Territory Intervention on his people at a public forum at the Redfern Community Centre, 6pm on April 14.

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