Friday, November 26, 2004

Palm Island crisis easing

North Queensland police say the crisis on Palm Island has now eased in the aftermath of yesterday's riot.

Indigenous community residents took to the streets after the release of an autopsy conducted on a man who died in police custody.

The autopsy showed that Cameron Doomadgee had broken ribs and died from a punctured lung in the watch-house last Friday.

Up to 300 islanders stormed the police station, setting fire to it with a petrol bomb. They also destroyed the police residence.

Fire officials trying to control the blaze were reportedly threatened by locals, some of whom were carrying knives and other weapons.

A fire truck was also destroyed.

Mr Doomadgee's cousin, Murrandoo Doomadgee, says he understands the anger in the local community.

"What we look upon with shame is the continued violence of police against young Aboriginal men and women," he said.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has sought to reassure Palm Islanders the death will be properly investigated and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, who has flown to Townsville, says his officers will fully co-operate.

It is believed 60 police officers are on Palm Island trying to restore law and order.

Meanwhile, Queensland's coroner released a statement last night, promising an "open and thorough" inquest into Mr Doomadgee's death.

Michael Barnes says an initial report indicates there is no evidence to suggest that his injuries were caused by the "direct use of force." [?]

He says the pathologist believes they were consistent with Mr Doomadgee and another person falling onto a hard surface - such as the watch-house steps - during a struggle. [?]

By Sorry 26 November 04


Hundreds riot over death
THE police station on Queensland's Palm Island has been burnt to the ground and other buildings damaged during a riot by up to 300 residents angry over a death in custody.

Whitewash over Hickey's death
The New South Wales coroner has cleared police of any responsibility for the death of Aboriginal teenager Thomas 'TJ' Hickey.