Shooting shattered town’s ‘hope for the future’

 

THE tragic death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker won't soon be forgotten by the community in Yuendumu, with indigenous artist and proud Warlpiri man Otto Sims telling the NT News thehope the community had for a better future was now "shattered".

"We, the Warlpiri people of the tribe of Yuendumu, had high hopes for 2020," Mr Sims said.

"Just last week we put a meeting notice up.

"We were going to try and make our community a better place to live and work together.

"Now, we're back at square one."

Mr Sims, 51, said that despite media reports to the contrary, no riots had taken place in the community since Mr Walker's death.

"We are planning a peaceful protest in remembrance of Kumanjayi and are teaching our young people to protest with non-violence," Mr Sims said.

"Indigenous people need to stand in solidarity with one voice to stop police brutality."

Warlpiri artist and local resident Otto Jungarrayi Sims at Yuendumu, where Kumanjayi Walker was shot. Picture: Amos Aikman
Warlpiri artist and local resident Otto Jungarrayi Sims at Yuendumu, where Kumanjayi Walker was shot. Picture: Amos Aikman

He said many in the community were questioning whether the events over the weekend really happened, saying it all felt like something "out of a movie".

"People are angry deep inside," Mr Sims said.

"There's sorrow."

The collective psyche of the Indigenous community in Yuendumu had been triggered, according to Mr Sims, with the weekend's events bringing back memories of historical mistreatment.

"I take it all seriously. It breaks my spirit.

"All those things that happened to our people.

"All the black deaths in custody and loved ones we lost. My uncle died in custody in Katherine.

"It reminds me of all that. I've tried to forget about it."

A government source with direct contact with both NT Police and the community in Yuendumu revealed on Monday that a pair of scissors was used to stab the police officer who fired the fatal shots on Saturday evening.



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