Maxine Beneba Clarke

the blood-truth is:


it’s much less about the camera

           and much more to do with the body

that it’s worn on


the body with the baton

hanging from its belt, the body

in blue, the body on the cop beat

clenching fists around a point-blank

pepper-spray can, the body

who holds the rein, that rears the riot

horse, the body trained

to wield

                         the gun



it is conviction-clear now


       what most of us knew

two years ago


when the surveillance devices act

                 was amended



back then, victoria police

said bodycams

                    would be the third eye


that there was nothing to worry about:

and importantly,

         this would ensure that officers

do the right thing


but we all knew


we knew    

that it was not the people

who needed watching



that those cameras only shoot

from the same angle

                     as the coppers do:


no matter who does what, no matter

      what goes down


that device

         can only ever be pointed


                      at you



victoria police,

they brought in bodycams


       and they now admit

they have the power

          to edit or delete




trust them



they will only do it sparingly



meanwhile bystanders’ smartphones

capture disproportionate force

                      midway through an episode

headlocked hard against the asphalt

concerned for his own welfare

he’d called for help himself


meanwhile neighbours say

nah, it never went down

                     like that

the gun was cocked

before anyone

                     even answered

           the door


had he really skipped parole,

or was it just supposed to be

                    a routine check-up call


where were bodycams then

                   we have heard it all before



the blood-truth is:


it’s much less about the gun

           and much more to do with the body

that it’s trained on



the body with the placard

raised in its fist, the body

brown, the body colonised

the body of a struggling mind

         the body easy

                     to get away with beating:

clenching eyelids against a point-blank

pepper-spray can, the body underneath

the rearing riot horse, the body well trained



to fear


                                           the blue

For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.

All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.

There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

Use your Google account to create your subscription