Australia: chaplain calls for investigation after riots

 Following Sunday's riots in Sidney, Australia, sparked by the death of a 17 year old Aboriginal boy, the chaplain of Sydney's Aboriginal Catholic Community, Fr Frank Fletcher, called for a "proper judicial investigation". Fifty police officers were injured in the riot. Police deny the Aboriginal community's claim that officers were chasing Thomas Hickey when he fell off his bicycle and impaled himself on a metal fence. Fr Frank Fletcher, who was the first priest to work with Sydney's Aboriginal Catholic Ministry from 1987 -1999, said a thorough investigation would provide the only chance of halting the cycle of suspicion and violence between the community and police. He said: "We've got to realise what a long bad history they've had from the police.." "While there's certainly been an improvement [since a similar incident a decade ago], there are still a lot of memories. People are deeply hurt." Fr Fletcher, who remains Patron of the Ministry, said: "We don't condone the violence, but it's an expression of desperation, enormous frustration. Something like this could happen again." Meanwhile Blessed Sacrament Sister Maureen Flood, who spent much of yesterday with the community, agreed that the attitude of many of the police was a continuing problem. But she attributed the violence to drug addiction that is fuelled by "the drug pushers who are in there in a big way". Sr Flood, who describes the riot as an "expression of justifiable anger", continues part-time ministry in the community after living and working in Redfern for many years. She said: "My own feeling, is that every now and then the violence breaks out because the people are so genuinely oppressed. When you think about the depths of depression of Aboriginal people, it's no wonder that they become so angry, so bitter, and inevitably get on drugs and alcohol. It's very hard to break out of this cycle." Source: Church Resources

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