The Sport Book – Book 2 of 12: A New Start: What to do when you hear a person on the street shouting racist abuse, or the sound of a police car speeding towards you, or someone throwing a beer bottle at you, you know that your home is in jeopardy.
The situation is the same for many other Australians, as our nation’s streets are becoming increasingly segregated and hostile towards our most vulnerable.
As I have argued elsewhere in this series, we are witnessing the beginning of a new race war in Australia, and I am optimistic about the future.
I know it will not be easy, but I believe that there is a way forward.
I am convinced that if we unite, we can stop the next wave of racism and discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This is a story about how we can.
It is about how the Australian community can unite, and how we will.
It is about why we need a new start.
It was July 18, 2017, when I received a call from a friend on the phone.
It was the day after he received his first call about racism.
I knew the man from my family.
He was the son of a retired police officer who had lost a son to police.
He had been assaulted on the job, had his pension cheque stolen and had to start looking for work.
He had lived on the streets for many years.
He was a regular at a pub that was known for being a safe haven for people of colour.
I asked him what he was thinking about, and he said, “What if we were the ones to be killed?”
That day, I felt like I had heard it all.
My thoughts ran through my head.
How could it be that someone would be murdered by the police?
I was terrified, and not just because of what I was hearing from the man.
I was scared for my community as well.
I was concerned that the men who were running the bar would do the same to me.
My family had been attacked by the men on the other side of the street a few months before, and we had been targeted as well, and it was only a matter of time before someone would do something to us.
My friends, my sister and I sat on the couch, crying.
My friend had recently left the police, and had recently been released from prison.
I didn’t think that he would do anything to hurt my family again, and so I kept asking him, “How can you think like that?”
He responded, “You know I have a bad feeling about this.”
“I’m scared of the police,” he told me.
“I’ve been on the wrong side of a lot of bad people,” I said.
“I have a lot to answer for.”
I asked if I could meet him at the pub.
I hoped he would be willing to talk.
I thought, if we can’t meet, then we can always go to his house.
I walked into his house, and a man came to his door, holding a gun.
He asked me if I knew what I had been doing, and asked if he could take me to the pub and kill me.
“Yes,” I answered.
He shot me.
His gun was pointed at my head, and the muzzle was pointed right at me.
I heard him scream, and when he dropped the gun, I saw him run to his car, where he ran towards the house and got out, and ran towards me.
He asked me, “Do you know where you are going?”
I told him I was going to the bar.
I told him, if I die here, then I will be gone forever.
He shot me again.
My head hit the concrete and I felt a pulse go through me, and then my body stopped moving.
I thought, this is what I have been doing all my life.
I have never been in trouble.
I am innocent.
He ran back to the car, and grabbed the gun and walked away.
I never knew what had happened to me, but he was never found, and my life has never been the same.
I woke up the next morning with the fear that I had never been able to tell anyone about what had just happened to my family, because they were on the police payroll.
I tried to call my friends, and tried to reach out to the police.
They told me that there were a lot more police officers out on patrol, but they were doing everything they could to find my killer.
They told me to just call them if I had any questions.
I started calling the police and my friends.
They never called me back.
I had been planning to do something about the racism I was experiencing, but the fear of going to jail and the stigma attached to being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders