Police in Sydney, Australia, are under fire after shooting two Aboriginal teenagers over the weekend. Both were among six people who were riding in a stolen car in Sydney’s Kings Cross area. At 4am, the car hit a 29-year-old woman; police said they had “no choice but to shoot at the car” because they feared she was going to die. But a video taken on a mobile phone shows police punching an unarmed passenger who was pinned to the ground before dragging him, bleeding, and handcuffing him.
As of Tuesday, the Telegraph says the 14-year-old driver and a 17-year-old front-seat passenger are both still hospitalized in serious condition. The back-seat passengers, aged 24, 13, 14 and 16 have been arrested and charged with driving in a stolen car. The 14-year-old, who is now in a coma, has reportedly been in trouble with police since he was 8 years old, says the Daily Telegraph.
The police will be carrying out their own investigation and have been concerned the incident could stoke racial tensions, says the Telegraph, as such have “occasionally spilt into riots in the impoverished inner-city suburb of Redfern,” where a large Aboriginal community lives. Mike Gallacher, the Police Minister of New South Wales, is supporting the officer who alleged shot the 17-year-old. On ABC News/The World Today, an MP from Sydney, Michael Turnbull, described the Kings Cross area as “effectively a war zone” and called for more licensing restrictions.
As reporter Adam Harvey points out, while Bureau of Crime Statistics figures show an average of 271 assaults over the past ten years in the Kings Cross area, the average has dropped to 235 and “the year to last July was the quietest in a decade, with 220 assaults.”
Outraged at the brutality displayed on the video, the Aboriginal community protested on Tuesday outside the New South Wales Parliament and called for an independent inquiry. Boxer Anthony Mundine, who is Aboriginal, joined indigenous leaders and families of the accusd teenagers at the protest. He had visited the 17-year-old who was shot in the neck in the hospital and told the Sydney Morning Herald that
“They are going to leave the bullet lodged in his neck. He won’t be able to walk properly, he might have to have a brace on for the rest of his life. Just imagine the trauma he is going to go through.”
Mundine says he thinks the police officer who shot the teenager should be investigated for attempted murder.
An elder in Redfern, Mick Mundine, tells the Daily Telegraph that he fears that “people seeking justice for the teenagers would incite violence.” He also emphasized that the police must carry out their investigation and that “we need to do this the right way, for the sake of those two boys.”
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