Arbitrary Curfews and Discrimination
Some of the first major stirrings of change came in the 1960s. There was a small group of Aboriginal activists in Redfern, influenced by the Black Power movement in the US. They read people like Huey Newtown, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver. In America, the Black Panthers confronted the American police.
In Inner Sydney, police were enforcing a curfew at night that solely targeted at Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people walking the streets in Redfern, Newtown, Alexandria and Chippendale were subject to arbitrary, violent arrest and detention by police.
At night, when Aboriginal people met at local hotels in Redfern, police often blocked the nearby streets with police paddy wagons before closing time. They would move into the hotels and force Aboriginal customers out onto the streets. Police regularly arrested Aboriginal people indiscriminately and held them overnight in the cells. They were often unfairly charged with offences like drunkenness, offensive behaviour and offensive language.
There were many complaints by Aboriginal people of being assaulted in the cells. At this time, there wasn’t any access to effective legal representation. Most Aboriginal people appeared unrepresented in court and simply pleaded guilty.