Opinion

Marly Wells Naparngardi, Harry Jakamarra Nelson, Valerie Napaljarri Martin, Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves
The killing of Kumanjayi Walker

Marly Wells Naparngardi, Warlpiri woman: When I first heard what had happened, I immediately felt outraged, and betrayed, but most of all, I felt sad.

We came on Sunday morning to stand together in our grief and were presented with smirking police officers and no answers.

Two mounted police attempted to bring their horses closer – an intimidation tactic. Someone requested them to leave and I heard one of the officers say, “If you had any respect for the horse’s life you would stop waving the cardboard in its face. He doesn’t like it. You’re intimidating him.”

How dare someone who works for an organisation that attacks, and creates and causes harm, and kills people try to tell a peaceful protester they are intimidating. If you had any respect for human beings, if you had any respect for the traditional owners of this land, if you had any respect at all you would be questioning the systems in place – the systems you benefit from, the systems that keep Aboriginal people down.

I work in a school. We encourage all of our children to be strong, and to be smart, and to be proud of who they are and where they come from. But are we just raising them to be disappointed, and betrayed?

I don’t want to live in a world where we have to ask if our nieces and nephews will be next. Our brothers and sisters?

What has happened in Yuendumu is an outrage, an injustice, and an event that we must not allow to be swept under the rug.

I don’t know how to trust the systems that have been set up for us to fail. We are hurt. We are angry. We are suffering. We stay strong and we stay together – but we should never again have to be connected by grief like this.

Thank you for being here. I hope we never have to meet under these conditions again.

 

Harry Jakamarra Nelson, senior Warlpiri man: We are hurting and in shock from one of our young men being killed by the police. It was a funeral day, too. Everybody else in the community was at the cemetery. The coppers seen no one around, and that’s when they moved in, to his grandmother’s house. Absolute mongrels.

Hundreds of us waited at the police station that night where they were keeping that young man in the cells. I don’t know what they were doing with him. The community leaders and even our Aboriginal police officer were not allowed in, we were given no respect at all.

They expected our young people to riot that night. But they kept their cool and followed our lead. I am very happy with what the young people have done, getting the truth out.

Now there are police everywhere in our community. We want them gone. They have been passing messages to all the white staff working here – “You better leave, you are unsafe here.”

What rubbish – they are spreading propaganda. We will be driving into Alice Springs and taking to the streets. I encourage people all around the country to take to the streets as well. We are happy to hear there are lots of rallies planned. We have lots of our people coming into town. People are coming from Tennant Creek, there are Pitlands mob. People coming from everywhere…

To all the people coming along to protest – I want to say thank you from my people. This is unreal. The Intervention has a lot to do with this, it has set us right back. The last time Warlpiri people were shot like this was 90 years ago, with the Coniston massacre.

We are hurting. There is no fairness, honesty or respect.

 

Valerie Napaljarri Martin, senior Warlpiri woman: What they done is really bad. We need help and support. We need truth and justice. We aren’t running around with weapons. We want justice for what they done, being shot in front of the mother and wife.

Our black lives matter. It’s gone beyond too far. This is really happening to our people.

They could’ve waited for us to finish the funeral. That was his full uncle being buried. Imagine, already in custody, dead on the scene. In front of family.

We are suffering. The whole community. They gonna take our kids away now. We are very concerned for our young people now.

They should leave. The police are putting lies against us. We want the truth out to the nation.

 

Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves, senior Warlpiri man: Yuendumu right now is really sad and devastated. We have lost a beautiful young fella and the family here is not happy. They are really sad.

We are sorry in Yuendumu and we are really angry with police. This kardiya [whitefella] has lots of questions to answer. The policemen were giving us no information.

That policeman who shot him, they took him to the police station and they evacuated all the health workers. They shot him in front of wife and family, and then they take him to police station. Policeman is not qualified to look after him.

We want answers and justice. 

 

On Wednesday, Constable Zachary Rolfe was charged with the murder of Kumanjayi Walker. The 28-year-old police officer was granted bail in an out-of-session court hearing. He has been suspended on pay, to appear in an Alice Springs court on December 19.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 16, 2019 as "The killing of Kumanjayi Walker". Subscribe here.

Marly Wells Naparngardi, Harry Jakamarra Nelson, Valerie Napaljarri Martin, Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves