Inside the system

Dylan Voller free at last

Dylan Voller was released from prison in February, following protests demanding his freedom. He is completing a 16 week rehabilitation program in Alice Springs where he can visit his family. Last year Four Corners exposed the vicious abuse Dylan suffered at the hands of guards in the Don Dale juvenile detention centre in Darwin. Dylan has been locked up for petty crimes since age 12, with just one and a half years outside custody. He was subjected to constant dehumanising abuse by guards including physical assault, being stripped naked, long periods in solitary confinement and notoriously being strapped down in a spit hood.

Dylan, now 19, was serving time for an incident in 2014. The Royal Commission examining youth detention and “child protection” in the NT revealed that this offence occurred straight after Dylan was released from extended solitary confinement in Don Dale. He bravely testified at the Royal Commission despite threats against him from prison guards, saying “young people need love and someone to talk to, not to be locked in a cell” and condemning systemic racism in the prisons.

NT Labor Chief Minister Michael Gunner took office just after the Don Dale scandal, promising change. But his government twice opposed parole for Dylan Voller. At the February parole hearing, NT Government lawyers argued that Voller’s treatment in Don Dale had been justified and should not result in a shortened prison term. Also in February, Gunner insisted that police should be able to use tasers on children, after an NT Children’s Court ruled that the tasering of a 12-year-old Aboriginal boy in Darwin last November had been unlawful.

Uber scabs for Trump

Ride hailing app Uber has been hit by a massive backlash after the company encourage strike-breaking during a Taxi drivers strike in New York. The one-hour strike was called by New York taxi driver to protest Trump’s racist travel ban on 28 January. It coincided with a mass protest at JFK International airport. Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance told Democracy Now:

“We were outraged by the so-called executive order… it’s absolutely inhumane and cruel. And we are a workforce that’s largely Muslim and Sikh. And we know that, you know, when the flames of Islamophobia are fanned… it has a ripple effect… taxi drivers, who are 20 times more likely to be killed on the job than any other worker, have often been the workers that have been the victims of hate crimes.”

Uber not only continued to run services to and from JFK, but even de-activated “surge pricing” to keep down fares. The company immediately faced a social media campaign under the hashtag #deleteUber encouraging people to delete their Uber account. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, had agreed to work with Trump by sitting on his business advisory council. The wave of outrage has now forced him to resign.
Rage as French cops say black man raped ‘by accident’

French police bashed and raped a young black with a baton in February. An internal investigation then claimed that it was an “accident” and that his pants had “slipped down on their own.”

The youth worker, Theo, intervened after he saw a group of police slap another young black man during a stop and search. Theo was set upon by police, who dragged him to a notorious CCTV blind-spot, raped him and spat on him while hurling racist abuse. The head of the police union even said publicly that the verbal abuse was “just about appropriate”.

Theo required surgery and his injuries may be permanent. Anger erupted as 5000 people protested in Paris. Half of all police officers are expected to vote for the fascist Front National in the coming presidential election.

Emmet Till accuser finally admits to false evidence

Sixty-two years later, there is finally confirmation that the woman at the heart of the historic Emmet Till lynching case in the US gave false evidence. Emmet was a 14-year-old black boy lynched in Mississippi in 1955. The murder and the subsequent trial was a catalyst for the black civil rights movement. Till allegedly wolf-whistled at white woman, Carolyn Bryant, outside a grocery store. Her husband Roy and his half-brother abducted, mutilated and shot the boy a few days later, dumping his body in a river. Horrific photos of his disfigured corpse galvanised opposition to racist Southern segregation and lynch-mob justice.

The two killers were acquitted by an all-white jury but, protected from double jeopardy, admitted to the murder in an interview with Look magazine just months later.

During the trial Carolyn Bryant testified that Till had grabbed her and addressed her in sexually crude terms. Historian Timothy B. Dyson says she told him in a 2008 interview, “that part is not true.” Dyson has just published a book containing the interview, The Blood of Emmett Till.

Disabled Norfolk Islanders told to work

The federal government takeover of Norfolk Island has seen disabled residents thrown off their pensions. Welfare services were taken over by Canberra in June when the island surrendered its autonomy. One man, David McGowan, had his application rejected in August despite the fact he was already an amputee. He suffered a heart attack and was admitted to intensive care in Sydney the same month. He told Fairfax, “I am a 63-year-old, above-the-knee amputee who’s recovering from a massive heart attack and I’ve been rejected for disability support. It’s just crazy.”

The Department of Human Services (DHS) wrote to him with a list of suggested jobs including taxi driver, tram driver, security guard and gaming attendant. McGowan told Fairfax, “The cardiologist said I will never be able to hold a commercial driver’s licence because of my heart condition and yet the DHS have suggested I become a taxi driver or a tram driver, notwithstanding the fact there are no trams on the island.”

Greg Magri, was kicked off the disability pension despite being on it for 15 years. He has a brain injury caused by a stroke. He is now on Newstart which leaves him $150 a week worse off. He was told the decision was made because he hadn’t registered with a disability employment service—but none existed on the Island until last July.

Ex-Labor Premier to lobby for the banks

Former Queensland Labor Premier Anna Bligh has taken on the job as head of the Australian Bankers Association. Bligh will be paid to lobby former colleagues in an effort to protect the banks’ obscene profits.

Already she is a new found opponent of a banking Royal Commission. With the Commonwealth Bank posting a half-year profit of $4.9 billion in February, she has her work cut out for her.


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