The family of an Aboriginal boy who was violently arrested by a police officer in Surry Hills this week want the constable involved charged.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the family said the excessive force used on the 16 year old boy was unnecessary and that it was hard to describe the “anger” and “frustration” they felt as a family.
The footage of the arrest shows a police officer kicking the boy’s feet out from underneath him and slamming him to the ground, face first.
“The use of excessive force used upon him is unnecessary and irresponsible on the officer’s behalf,” the boy’s sister said at the press conference. “Especially the need to leg sweep somebody who was not a threat.”
“No child should ever have to feel targeted and unsafe about the people employed in the community, who are supposed to be the ones to protect and create a safer environment for all.
“Children hanging out in their local parks are entitled to have a childhood and they should not be treated like criminals.”
The boy’s mother said: “I don’t think he should be made to feel like he’s in a prison that’s made up of the whole world.”
“Because we’re Aboriginal we see a lot of this all the time. We experience extra obligations to answer to people: who we are, where we’re going, what we’re doing, when we’re just walking along.”
The reason the boy was initially stopped by police remains unclear. He was taken to hospital by ambulance to receive x-rays after the arrest.
The family’s lawyer George Newhouse of the National Justice Project said if the police officer was not charged quickly, the family would pursue a private prosecution.
The press conference came after NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told 2GB radio that the officer involved was having a “bad day”. Newhouse said the comments from Fuller were “wrong”.
“This isn’t an incident that was caused by an officer having a bad day, it’s systemic,” he said.
The boy’s father expressed solidarity with the family of George Floyd in the U.S, taking a knee in his honour.
“We are in solidarity with you and what’s happening in America and I also want to say I invite the team to come forward now and we’ll bow the knee.”
On Thursday morning the boy’s mother spoke to Fran Kelly on ABC’s RN Breakfast. She said that if the incident hadn’t been filmed, or had happened in almost any other week, chances are it would not have raised a ripple.
She explained she’d brought her children up to know, what she’d been taught as a child, and that is the only answer to a police officer is ‘Yes, Sir. No, Sir. Three bags full, Sir.’
Her son rebelled – I’m not sure if other parents experience that with their children – she asked. Her son was mouthy and she said she’d never encourage any Aboriginal to speak to a police officer like her son had.
But a 16 year old child being mouthy does not correspond with the violence he encountered in response from an adult police officer. It doesn’t and if the boy wasn’t Indigenous it likely wouldn’t have. That is what needs to change, the boy’s mother told Kelly. There cannot be two sets of rules.