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Angry scenes at Palm Is court hearing

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 29 November 2004

There have been angry scenes inside and outside a north Queensland court after the first appearance of 18 people charged with rioting and other offences on Palm Island.

The violence erupted on Friday when the post-mortem results of a death in custody were released.

The court was disrupted during the first appearance of 40-year-old John Clumppoint, who has been charged with rioting.

Members of the Palm Island community started shouting "bullshit" when his history was read to the court.

Magistrate David Glasgow said he would clear the court if there were any further incidents.

When Mr Glasgow denied bail, the gallery again erupted with shouts of: "Kill 'em all. Why do we have a court case?"

Lawyer Kevin Rose, who is representing the 18 men charged after Friday's riot on Palm Island, says he is hoping to have the bail applications heard next week.

"The magistrate indicated that in most cases he wasn't going to grant bail today to people that were involved in anyway with the riot on Palm Island," Mr Rose said.

But that means all would miss the funeral of Cameron Doomadgee, who died while in police custody on Palm Island.

Mr Rose says he will be doing all he can to make it possible for those in custody to attend the funeral.

"We'll be making inquiries about the funeral," he said.

Mr Rose says some members of the Palm Island community do not agree with postponing the bail application but those were his instructions from his clients.

Outside the courtroom today, anger and frustration overflowed as about 50 people held a rally.

Some held placards reading, "Police Service: Murderers and Liars" and "Thou shalt not steal no more".

"Racism is rife in the judicial system - the police, the bloody judges, the lawyers, everything and the governments," one protester said.

One elder says she is disgusted.

"What do I tell my great grand-daughter, what a life, a better life, we got in this country, 'cause we don't have a good life in this country," she said.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government is considering a request for a greater permanent police presence on Palm Island.

The community has recommended an increase in the number of Aboriginal police liaison officers.

Child Safety Minister Mike Reynolds, whose electorate includes Palm Island, says he supports the call.

"That's something that the Government of course will be considering in the future," he said. "It has been called for in other communities as well.

"Let's see how we go. That's an operational question for the police but I think it does have some merit."

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