Indigenous communities complain that Australian Police consistently abuse their power over them, and racial profiling in our policing and criminal justice system is ubiquitous.
The National Justice Project started the Copwatch campaign to address this power imbalance.
The campaign empowers Indigenous Australians to protect themselves from police overreach by teaching them how to legally film the police and de-escalate situations.
We also designed an app to help the community quickly film and safely store these videos online.
Warning: the following video contains confronting footage.
Documenting police interactions and storing video evidence can protect Aboriginal people. Evidence can be used to prove what happened, and to ensure that systemic problems are revealed and resolved.
“Overseas experience shows both police and community members behave better when they’re under scrutiny, full stop,” says George Newhouse, principal lawyer for the National Justice Project.
Referring to an incident in Western Australia where police ran down an Aboriginal man with a two tonne vehicle, Newhouse says: “If it wasn’t on film, I’m not so sure that we’d be seeing the intense investigation that is currently underway”.
The Copwatch campaign hopes to equip Aboriginal people with the tools to seek justice and accountability.
Our team recently presented a Copwatch training session to members of the community in Perth.