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Deceased Palm Island man's family speaks out

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 27 November 2004

Relatives of the north Queensland man who died in police custody on Palm Island last week say the local Indigenous community is desperate for justice.

The death of 36-year-old Cameron Doomagee sparked a riot on the island yesterday, with the police station set alight and other buildings damaged.

An autopsy showed 36-year-old Cameron Doomagee had broken ribs and a punctured lung. Palm Island Council chairwoman Erykah Kyle told "Lateline" that the broken ribs caused a rupture in Mr Doomagee's liver, causing internal bleeding.

Mr Doomagee's cousin, Murrandoo Doomagee, says the riots were a last resort.

"We've had enough mate, this is ridiculous," he said.

"If the system works we'll respect it. The system not only is not working for us, it has never ever worked for us or delivered justice.

"What is going on on Palm Island is a genuine reflection of how all Aboriginal people are feeling at this stage across Aboriginal Australia."

Police have said that Mr Doomagee's death was the result of a scuffle in which an officer and Mr Doomagee fell down concrete steps.

Aboriginal leader Sam Watson says the healing process on Palm Island will be long and painful.

He says the Aboriginal community must be consulted and involved in any investigations into Mr Doomagee's death.

"If criminal charges can be supported then the people responsible must be charged, the same as any other member of the community," Mr Watson said.

"Queensland police, Australian police do no have an open licence to terrorise, bash and murder Aboriginal people. That blue uniform is not an open licence to do that."

Meanwhile, some Palm Island locals are concerned they could lose teaching and medical staff as a result of the riots.

Resident Nikki Bull says the experience may frighten away non-Indigenous support workers.

"At this particular point in time who could really blame them if they want to get off the island as soon as possible," she said.

"There's a great lot of fear here and not only with non-Indigenous staff but with some Indigenous people here as well.

"They just feel that there are other ways to handle a situation like this."

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