Indigenous Man ‘Guilty’ for alleged role in Palm Island Uprising

Indigenous Man ‘Guilty’ for alleged role in Palm Island Uprising

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John Ahni Schertow
October 25, 2008

Lex Wotton, two months before his trial, on August 10th, 2008, at the invitation of Indigenous Social Justice Association Melbourne.

In Australia, an all-white jury has found Aboriginal man Lex Wotton ‘guilty’ for his alleged role in the 2004 Palm Island uprising.

Sick of the commonplace racism and injustice, on November 26, 2004, an estimated 400 people, many of them youths, rose up after they learned that Cameron Doomadgee, now known as Mulrunji, sustained multiple injuries, akin to a plane crash, before dying alone in a jail cell. Mulrunji was arrested less than two hours earlier for being a ‘public nuisance’.

The group proceeded to set fire to the courthouse, police station and police barracks on the Island.

In total, 28 Indigenous People were arrested and charged with various offenses – the vast majority of whom were granted bail the following week. Lex Wotton, however, was singled out as being the single driving force behind the uprising.

Lex initially pleaded guilty for taking part, but after seeing everyone getting released he changed his plea to not guilty.

During his trial, which began on October 5, 2008, an overwhelming and quite frankly suspect amount of testimony was placed before the court, which solidified a view that Lex Wotton, a soft-spoken father of four children was nothing less than a dangerous criminal.

“It’s business as usual in the sovereign state of Queensland,” said Aboriginal activist Sam Watson, after the jury reached its verdict.

“You have an all-white court: a white judge, white lawyers, a white jury deciding on the merits of a case that involves very deep Aboriginal cultural issues,” he said.

“There is no justice for Aboriginal people within the courts of Queensland.”

Mr. Watson indicated that Lex, who is in the hospital after having a panic attack while awaiting the verdict, would be speaking with his lawyers about appealing the conviction.



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