Eleven arrested after Aurukun riot

Brisbane Times: Eleven men have been charged in the wake of a mob besieging the local police station in the far north Queensland Aboriginal community of Aurukun.

Police used a Taser on a man late on Monday afternoon, prompting a riot in the tiny community on the Cape York Peninsula.

Superintendent Brett Schafferius said police were called to the community’s general store, where they arrested a man on public nuisance offences.

But the man allegedly turned on officers, punching one in the head.

‘‘As a result of his behaviour a Taser was deployed,’’ Superintendent Schafferius told Fairfax Media.

The settlement of about 1000 people erupted after the incident, with a large number of people forcing officers to retreat to the police station compound.

Locals allegedly threw rocks at the compound, smashing the windows of police vehicles and three police houses.

No one was injured during the melee, but doctors with the Royal Flying Doctor Service were flown out of the settlement, while 20 police officers from Cairns were flown in.

The incident is believed to have been caught on CCTV cameras, which have been installed throughout the settlement. Police went door to door questioning those believed to have been involved in the riot, after viewing the footage on Tuesday.

Eleven local men, aged between 17 and 34, have been arrested and charged with riot offences.

At least seven of the men have been flown to Cairns and remanded in custody to face court at a later date.

Superintendent Schafferius said indigenous elders were working with police to keep the peace following what he described as a ‘‘spontaneous flare-up’’ involving a ‘‘small sample of the community’’.

‘‘As the afternoon and evening progressed [the riot] died away, and the community is now functioning as normal,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ll be taking up with the council and elders in the community to discuss what’s happened, and to see if there’s ways that we can both work together to make sure it doesn’t happen again.’’

Aurukun mayor Dereck Walpo was out of town and could not comment on the incident on Tuesday.

‘‘I’ve been given mixed messages … I’ve had a lot of people calling me,’’ he said.

Aurukun was rocked by a riot involving up to 200 people in March this year when shots were fired and officers had to call in community elders to help calm residents.

In 2007, a riot in the community led to an attack on the police station and police vehicles. The riot was the subject of a major investigation.

The remote community, located about 800 kilometres north-west of Cairns on the western side of Cape York, is cut off by road during the lengthy wet season.

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1 thought on “Eleven arrested after Aurukun riot”

  1. Another condescending attempt by the state to paint a moment of genine rebellion by indigenous people as some small, peurile, inconsequential glitch in normality.

    I wonder why the hell some elders are working toward the pacification of rebellion in their communities and acting complicitly with the cops?

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