WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains names and descriptions of people who have died.
It was a Wednesday morning. I was 17 and getting ready for school. My mother ducked out to drive up to the shops to take out money for recess and lunch for both my sister and I.
I vividly remember brushing my hair when the house phone rang. I stopped what I was doing and went to answer it. I heard my mother crying on the other end, asking me to come to get to her. She’d been pulled over by about nine or 10 police officers for driving on a just expired registration. I hung up, locked the house and raced over to my elderly neighbour’s house asking her to please drive me to where my mother had been pulled over.
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We arrived five minutes later to find three cop cars and three cops surrounding my mother… one was screaming at her. My mother was crying… unable to comprehend the intimidation tactics of the police that pulled her over.
I ran over to her and immediately calmed her down before turning around and yelling back at the cop to stop yelling… that his yelling was unnecessary.
“She can’t drive with an expired registration!” he yelled.
"I know but yelling at her isn’t going to change the fact that she did. You can’t yell at her. There is no need to."
My response was calm but stern.
I was a 17-year-old, terrified and intimidated Aboriginal girl standing up to the police for their treatment towards my mother.
This was my first and last experience with the police.
Today as a 28-year-old woman, I am anxious every time I see a police officer or police car. My chest tightens, I feel a lump in my throat and I instinctually assess my demeanour, actions and behaviour.
“Will the police take an issue with anything I am doing at this moment?” is the thought that runs through my mind.