George Zimmerman found not guilty in Trayvon Martin case
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George Zimmerman found not guilty in Trayvon Martin case

Sunday, July 14, 2013

George Zimmerman, a Florida man charged with the shooting of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin, was found not guilty of second-degree murder late Saturday night following 16 hours of deliberation. The case has drawn national attention in the United States because of questions it raises over “stand your ground” self-defense laws.

Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. Prosecutors argued that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, had pursued Martin on the basis of race, as Martin walked through Zimmerman’s gated community on the way back from a convenience store. Zimmerman’s lawyers argued Martin attacked Zimmerman who then shot Martin in self-defense after Martin punched him and repeatedly slammed Zimmerman’s head against the sidewalk.

Following the decision to acquit, by a six member all-female jury, of both a second-degree murder and a manslaughter charge, Zimmerman’s lawyer said: “I think the prosecution of George Zimmerman was disgraceful”. On Twitter, Zimmerman’s brother Robert said the decision made him “proud to be an American”.

Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, posted on Twitter to say “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered”. Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s brother, posted “Et tu, America?”, alluding to the Shakespearean phrase “Et tu, Brute?”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have launched a petition calling on the US government to bring federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman. NAACP president Benjamin Jealous stated, “We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict. […] We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=George_Zimmerman_found_not_guilty_in_Trayvon_Martin_case&oldid=3148246”

Augusten Burroughs on addiction, writing, his family and his new book
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Augusten Burroughs on addiction, writing, his family and his new book

Friday, October 12, 2007

I had an unofficial phone call from Gay Talese last Tuesday. He had just flown back from Colombia and he was cranky. “I’m happy to do an interview with you,” he said, “but what the hell could you ask me that’s not already out there? Have you even bothered to look?!”

“Jeez, Mr. Talese, lots of things,” was my response. I lied. The truth is that when I call people to interview them, I do not have a set of preconceived questions. My agenda is to talk to them and gain a sense of who they are; to flesh them out as humans. To find out what they think about the world around them at that moment. With Gay Talese I had little interest in talking about Frank Sinatra Has a Cold and with Augusten Burroughs I had little interest in discussing Running with Scissors. I want to know what they think about things outside of the boxes people have placed them in.

With a memoirist like Burroughs, even this is a challenge. What parts of his life he has not written about himself, other interviewers have strip-mined. When we met for dinner at Lavagna in the East Village, I explained to Augusten this issue. I suggested we make the interview more of a conversation to see if that would be more interesting. “Instead of you in the catbird seat,” I said, “let’s just talk.”

We struck an instant rapport. What set out to be an hour and half interview over dinner had turned into four hours of discussion about our lives similarly lived. I removed half of the interview: the half that focused on me.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s conversation with writer Augusten Burroughs.


Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Augusten_Burroughs_on_addiction,_writing,_his_family_and_his_new_book&oldid=3157224”

Read Santa Clara marks tenth anniversary
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Read Santa Clara marks tenth anniversary

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Santa Clara, California, USA. The adult literacy program Read Santa Clara marked its tenth anniversary today with a gathering of program participants, staff, and supporters from the community. Read Santa Clara trains volunteer tutors and matches them with adult learners who wish to build their literacy skills.

In the presentation, program staff and supporters reviewed the program’s history and growth, honored long-time participants, and looked toward the future.

Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan spoke at the gathering, noting, “Read Santa Clara joins people who need to learn with people who need to teach, and what a powerful combination that is.” She added, “I think adult literacy is so important.”

Program coordinators estimate that tutors volunteered some 5000 hours last year. City Manager Jennifer Sparacino estimates, “That’s worth about $100,000 per year in volunteer time.”

Learners also spoke about what Read Santa Clara meant to them. Raymond Moreno said, “I hope it stays for another ten, twenty, thirty years, because we need it.” Juan Velasquez said, “My life has changed a lot…I did many things I could not have done without help.” And Ike Moore said, “To be able to express myself…What a gift!”

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Read_Santa_Clara_marks_tenth_anniversary&oldid=2145865”

Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font
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Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Last Friday at Madrid–Barajas Airport, Wikinews interviewed Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font, who is competing at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships that started this Monday in Montreal, Canada. Font has finished second in Monday’s Women’s 100 meter Freestyle S12 Heat 1, before going on to finish fourth in the Women’s 100 meter Freestyle S12 Final with a time of 1:03.20, less than a second behind bronze medalist German Naomi Maike Schnittger.

((Wikinews)) I’m Laura Hale, I’m interviewing Deborah Font for Wikinews. Deborah is going to the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal. You’re already a Paralympic medallist, right? You’ve won several medals at the Paralympics before?

Deborah Font: I won two medals in Sydney [2000 Summer Paralympic Games], a gold medal and bronze medal; in Athens [2004 Summer Paralympic Games] two silver medals and one bronze medal; in Beijing [2008 Summer Paralympic Games] one bronze medal; and in London [2012 Summer Paralympic Games] one bronze medal. Seven in Paralympic Games.

((WN)) And in World Championships?

Deborah Font: I don’t know the exact number. Several.

((WN)) What style do you swim?

Deborah Font: 400m freestyle.

((WN)) Okay, and you’re going to do that in Montreal?

Deborah Font: In Montreal I’ll do 400m freestyle.

((WN)) You think you’re going to get a medal?

Deborah Font: Yes, I’m fighting for a silver or bronze medal.

((WN)) What classification are you?

Deborah Font: S-12.

((WN)) S-12. So you have partial vision.

Deborah Font: Yeah, partial. [I can see a little.]

((WN)) Since you cannot see perfectly, when you swim, can you see the people next to you?

Deborah Font: I can see those next to me, but not perfectly. I see those near to me, but not those far from me.

((WN)) Do you think about other swimmers when you swim, or is it a disadvantage because you cannot see swimmers farther away?

Deborah Font: I swim my race, and don’t see the other swimmers.

((WN)) They don’t matter when you swim? You swim against yourself, your best time?

Deborah Font: I swim against myself, I don’t see the other swimmers too much. My race, myself, I go inside myself.

((WN)) Do you have any sponsors?

Deborah Font: No, no sponsors.

((WN)) How difficult is it to swim in Spain for Paralympic swimmers when you don’t have sponsors?

Deborah Font: We have a Paralympic Committee. It’s difficult having sponsors in Spain. For the Olympics, athletes don’t have many sponsors, and for Paralympics it’s more difficult.

((WN)) Where are you from?

Deborah Font: Barcelona.

((WN)) Is swimming more competitive in Barcelona, in Madrid…? Where do you think the best swimmers come from?

Deborah Font: They come from all Spain, but train only in Madrid or Barcelona. Most in Barcelona. (laughs)

((WN)) Is there a reason most of the swimmers train in Barcelona?

Deborah Font: There are more possibilities for training in good swimming pools. The “Centros de Alto Rendimiento” [High Performance Centres] are in Madrid or Barcelona.

((WN)) Coming in into the World Championships, did you do any special training, or change how you prepare?

Deborah Font: I did special training with a coach that only trains three or four of us at the High Performance Centre. ((es))Spanish language: ?Entrenamos con entrenador especial que por ejemplo él solo nos entrena a tres o cuatro paralímpicos, en el Centro de Alto Rendimiento pero con un entrenador especial que nos sigue a diario y que nos lo hace especialmente para nosotros.

((WN)) This is a pretty dumb question, but I know a lot of people who look at blind swimmers and they go how can they swim at a straight line? Can you clarify how people with vision impairments can actually swim?

Deborah Font: Well, in swimming it’s all technique and a lot of learning, and learning to swim by the middle of the lane involves a lot of training, habit… Perhaps it’s more difficult for completely blind people, but it’s all a matter of training, trying again and again, get to know the swimming pool… But I think the most difficult thing is to learn to swim the technique without being able to see the others, and to know what you are moving, your arm here and not there… and learning to touch the wall, it’s harder to calculate, especially when competing, because you cannot see the distance you have to the wall. ((es))Spanish language: ?Bueno, para nadar casi todo es técnica y mucho aprendizaje, y para nadar recto en la calle es por entrenamiento, por costumbre, por… quizás es más dicifil cuando se es ciego total ir por el medio justo, pero bueno todo está entrenado, es a base de entrenar, intentarlo, conocerte la piscina… Pero creo que lo más dificil es aprender a nadar la técnica sin ver a los demás, y saber lo que estás moviendo, el brazo, y si lo pones aquí, no lo pones aquí, pues eso sí, y llegar a la pared también, es como más dificil de calcular, sobre todo en competición, que no ves la pared a la distancia que estás.

((WN)) Thank you very much!

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Wikinews_interviews_Spanish_Paralympic_swimmer_Deborah_Font&oldid=4567521”

Saturn moon Enceladus may have salty ocean
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Saturn moon Enceladus may have salty ocean

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NASA’s Cassini–Huygens spacecraft has discovered evidence for a large-scale saltwater reservoir beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The data came from the spacecraft’s direct analysis of salt-rich ice grains close to the jets ejected from the moon. The study has been published in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.

Data from Cassini’s cosmic dust analyzer show the grains expelled from fissures, known as tiger stripes, are relatively small and usually low in salt far away from the moon. Closer to the moon’s surface, Cassini found that relatively large grains rich with sodium and potassium dominate the plumes. The salt-rich particles have an “ocean-like” composition and indicate that most, if not all, of the expelled ice and water vapor comes from the evaporation of liquid salt-water. When water freezes, the salt is squeezed out, leaving pure water ice behind.

Cassini’s ultraviolet imaging spectrograph also recently obtained complementary results that support the presence of a subsurface ocean. A team of Cassini researchers led by Candice Hansen of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, measured gas shooting out of distinct jets originating in the moon’s south polar region at five to eight times the speed of sound, several times faster than previously measured. These observations of distinct jets, from a 2010 flyby, are consistent with results showing a difference in composition of ice grains close to the moon’s surface and those that made it out to the E ring, the outermost ring that gets its material primarily from Enceladean jets. If the plumes emanated from ice, they should have very little salt in them.

“There currently is no plausible way to produce a steady outflow of salt-rich grains from solid ice across all the tiger stripes other than salt water under Enceladus’s icy surface,” said Frank Postberg, a Cassini team scientist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

The data suggests a layer of water between the moon’s rocky core and its icy mantle, possibly as deep as about 50 miles (80 kilometers) beneath the surface. As this water washes against the rocks, it dissolves salt compounds and rises through fractures in the overlying ice to form reserves nearer the surface. If the outermost layer cracks open, the decrease in pressure from these reserves to space causes a plume to shoot out. Roughly 400 pounds (200 kilograms) of water vapor is lost every second in the plumes, with smaller amounts being lost as ice grains. The team calculates the water reserves must have large evaporating surfaces, or they would freeze easily and stop the plumes.

“We imagine that between the ice and the ice core there is an ocean of depth and this is somehow connected to the surface reservoir,” added Postberg.

The Cassini mission discovered Enceladus’ water-vapor and ice jets in 2005. In 2009, scientists working with the cosmic dust analyzer examined some sodium salts found in ice grains of Saturn’s E ring but the link to subsurface salt water was not definitive. The new paper analyzes three Enceladus flybys in 2008 and 2009 with the same instrument, focusing on the composition of freshly ejected plume grains. In 2008, Cassini discovered a high “density of volatile gases, water vapor, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, as well as organic materials, some 20 times denser than expected” in geysers erupting from the moon. The icy particles hit the detector target at speeds between 15,000 and 39,000 MPH (23,000 and 63,000 KPH), vaporizing instantly. Electrical fields inside the cosmic dust analyzer separated the various constituents of the impact cloud.

“Enceladus has got warmth, water and organic chemicals, some of the essential building blocks needed for life,” said Dennis Matson in 2008, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“This finding is a crucial new piece of evidence showing that environmental conditions favorable to the emergence of life can be sustained on icy bodies orbiting gas giant planets,” said Nicolas Altobelli, the European Space Agency’s project scientist for Cassini.

“If there is water in such an unexpected place, it leaves possibility for the rest of the universe,” said Postberg.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Saturn_moon_Enceladus_may_have_salty_ocean&oldid=4453704”

Volunteers gather to help patrol Arizona’s border with Mexico
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Volunteers gather to help patrol Arizona’s border with Mexico

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Volunteers from across the United States and some foreign countries gathered Friday to start an unofficial border patrol project.

They converged on the town of Tombstone, Arizona to take part in what organizers call the Minuteman Project.

Many came with personal firearms, cell phones or walking canes.

Most estimates numbered the group at 400 to 450 people, recruited from the Internet, far less than the 1,300 the organizers had hoped for, but “it was enough to send a message,” according to Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.

“The federal government has walked away from this border,” he told some volunteers. He gained support and popularity for his stance against illegal immigration, but was characterized as anti-immigration in general.

“We are here to exercise what is a basic American right: free speech and the right to assemble,” he said.

Local citizens such as Luis Martinez, a third-generation Tombstone-area resident, were very unhappy with the developments. “They’ve come here to cause problems — to fight. Not to solve problems.

“I work in a ranch and all the ranchers use labor from the other side” of the border.

As Martinez fought back tears, he said he wanted to see the throngs leave Tombstone and go home.

During speeches delivered at orientation meetings, Rep. Tancredo was applauded loudly as he dismissed criticism from those who have called the volunteers racists and xenophobes. His fellow [[Republican Party (US)|Republican}}, President George Bush, described the group as “vigilantes.” Mexican President Vicente Fox used the term cazamigrantes — immigrant hunters.

Tancredo said: “We are saying to our government, ‘Please enforce the law,’ That is not a radical idea. That is not a vigilante idea. It is an American concept: the rule of law.”

Many of the volunteers, some from as far away as Italy, are bedding down in the nearby Miracle Valley Bible College for about $5 a night. Others are camping on the grounds of the run-down campus, about two miles north of the border.

Opposing sides were on the streets in Tombstone, although it appeared there was little contact or friction. Local, state and federal officers had mobilized in case confrontations arose.

James Gilchrist, a former Marine and a retired accountant from Aliso Viejo, Arizona, who ran the sign-up effort, said he expected more than 1,000 volunteers to help highlight the 30-day effort. The project’s goal is to patrol 23 miles of the San Pedro Valley, watch the border, and report illegal activity to law enforcement officials.

Many people fear that the project could result in vigilante violence. Organizers hope it causes the U.S. government to increase border patrols.

Tombstone is best known as the site of the 1881 shootout at the OK Corral.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Volunteers_gather_to_help_patrol_Arizona%27s_border_with_Mexico&oldid=1731207”

Two die in two-car crash near Connel, Scotland
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Two die in two-car crash near Connel, Scotland

Friday, August 2, 2013

A man and a woman have been killed in a road traffic accident near Connel in the west of Scotland. Seven people, including three children, were also injured in the head-on collision on the A85 road in Argyll at approximately 1830 BST (1730 UTC) yesterday.

A 74-year-old female passenger of a blue Honda CRV and a 32-year-old male passenger of a blue Vauxhall Vectra died at the scene of the crash. The Vauxhall driver, a 32-year-old woman, was transported by helicopter to Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, where she is reportedly in a critical albeit stable condition.

Three child passengers in the Vauxhall, aged fourteen, five and two, were taken to Oban Hospital and given treatment for minor injuries, as were the Honda’s 51-year-old female driver and two female passengers aged 49 and 46.

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said hydraulic cutting equipment was used during rescue efforts. “Ambulance personnel and police officers worked closely with our team throughout the incident but sadly one passenger from each car lost their life”, the spokesperson continued. “The thoughts of all emergency responders who were at the scene will be with the casualties and their loved ones as they attempt to come to terms with what has happened.”

Police have appealed for potential witnesses to contact them.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Two_die_in_two-car_crash_near_Connel,_Scotland&oldid=4456016”

Anti-Olympic protesters break into office of British Columbia premier
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Anti-Olympic protesters break into office of British Columbia premier

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Three anti-Olympic games protesters, posed as a flower delivery service, quickly ransacked British Columbia, Canada premier Gordon Campbell‘s downtown Vancouver, British Columbia office yesterday afternoon, breaking windows and throwing pictures, office documents, and various other items.

After the suspects were caught, they said that they were upset over Campbell’s support for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. They also claimed to work for “The Anti-Poverty Committee”.

They are now facing charges for property damage and uttering threats during or after the incident. Police are only identifying them as a 23-year-old man, a 29-year-old man, and a 17-year old female. The 23-year-old faces a third charge of assault by trespassing.

“The Anti-Poverty Committee”, which claims to help the homeless and poor in the city, are opposed to the 2010 Winter Olympics and have said they would ransack offices and homes of board members of the 2010 Winter Olympics organizing committee.

Poor citizens are losing their homes due to the money spent and developments near the city on preparation for the long-awaited 2010 Winter Olympics, they believe.

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan cited his concerns over the organization saying, “I think it gives the city a black eye. It doesn’t make Vancouver look good.”

This event follows an incident, last Saturday, during which anti-poverty activist David Cunningham was arrested. A police officer posed as a journalist for news source Vancouver 24 hours conducting what Cunningham believed to be a legitimate interview in downtown Vancouver. Cunningham was later arrested for alleged harassment, at a protest last Wednesday, to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games organizing committee.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) said on Monday that they are disappointed with the police officer who posed as a journalist for 24 Hours.

…They’ve shown a callous disregard for the media’s ability to do its job…

“The police’s actions in this case were reprehensible,” CAJ President Paul Schneidereit concerned. “They’ve shown a callous disregard for the media’s ability to do its job, which can only be undermined by these foolish, play-acting escapades by police officers who should know better.”

“It is astonishing that police don’t seem to think the implications of these things through before they act. Even the police spokesman who explained what happened at a press conference Sunday expressed misgivings about using such a tactic,” Schneidereit said. “Impersonating a journalist is destructive on several levels. First, potential sources may refuse to speak to a reporter in the future, fearing they are not who they claim. That means information vital to the public interest may never get publicized. Second, journalists trying to do their jobs could now be in greater danger from those who, believing those journalists may be police officers, then threaten their physical well-being.”

24 Hours editor-in-chief, Dean Broughton, this week also expressed some disappointment at the actions of the police. Broughton said he is issuing a complaint with British Columbia’s Police Complaint Commissioner. “We strongly object to the police using such tactics. It undermines our credibility.”

According to information from CanadaNewsWire, British Columbia police, in November 2005, posed as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), made friends and drank wine with a man from a Kamloops, British Columbia jail, John Bjornstrom, who escaped after being arrested for ransacking cottages for approximately two years, then arrested him 5 hours later.

Retrieved from “https://en.wikinews.org/w/index.php?title=Anti-Olympic_protesters_break_into_office_of_British_Columbia_premier&oldid=724771”

UK PM’s speechwriter awaits sentence
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UK PM’s speechwriter awaits sentence

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

An English lawyer has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. He faked a legal judgment and sent it to a father who was pleading in Taunton family court to be able to remain involved in his child’s upbringing. The lawyer, London barrister Bruce Hyman, now awaits his sentence. The judge indicated that he could receive a prison sentence. Bruce Hyman is well-known in media circles, having produced The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on BBC Radio. He also produced a series with Clive Anderson, at Above the Title Productions, called Unreliable Evidence.

The father, a former City financier, had attended a series of court hearings in order to make suitable arrangements to see his child following an acrimonious divorce. Shortly before one of these hearings he received an email, ostensibly from a self-help group to which he belonged, which had attached a Court of Appeal case that appeared favourable to an application he had made for the judge to stand down from the case. The father, who was representing himself, duly showed the case to the judge. At this point, Bruce Hyman, the lawyer representing the former wife, claimed to the judge that the case was a forgery, which indeed it turned out to be.

After confirming that the self-help group had not sent him the email, the father then embarked on some detective work his own. The fraudulent email was traced via its header to a dial-up internet connection and a phone number belonging to a shop in London. The shop was able to recover CCTV footage which showed a man sending the email from an Apple laptop. The man turned out to be Bruce Hyman.

Sentencing of Hyman is due in Bristol Crown Court on the 19th of September.

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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

Friday, March 3, 2006

The possibility of large-scale protests in the face of the 3,000 journalists covering the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, has event organisers and the Government worried.

The group “Black GST” – which represents Indigenous Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty – are planning demonstrations at prominent Games events unless the Government agrees to a range of demands including an end to Aboriginal genocide, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the signing of a treaty.

The Black GST say they hope the focus of the world’s media will draw attention to the plight of indigenous Australians during the Games. Organisers say supporters are converging from across Australia and from overseas. Organisers say up to 20,000 people may take part in talks, rallies, colourful protests and many cultural festivities designed to pressure the Federal Government on Indigeneous rights issues. They want the Government to provide a temporary campsite for the supporters, saying “organised chaos was better than disorganised chaos.”

The 2006 Stolenwealth Games convergence, described by organisers as the “cultural festival of the 2006 Commonwealth Games,” was virtually opened on March 2nd with the launch of the official “Stolenwealth Games” website. Scoop Independent News and Perth Indymedia reported that the launch was held at Federation Square in Melbourne. The site contents were projected via wireless laptop by the Stolenwealth Games General Manager, and a tour of the website was given on the big screen. He said “overwhelming amusement was the response from the audience.” The group say permanent access points to the website are being set up at public internet facilities across Victoria during the coming weeks.

“Interest in the Stolenwealth Games is building all over the world and this fresh, exciting and contemporary site will draw in people from Stolenwealth Nations around the globe to find out about the latest news and events,” said a Stolenwealth Games spokesperson. “We have been getting many requests from around the world wanting to know about the Stolenwealth Games. We have provided many ways that individuals and organisations can support the campaign by spreading the word.”

The Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group (VTOLJG) which represents the first nation groups of Victoria, has announced its support to boycott the 2006 Commonwealth Games until the Government “recognises Traditional Owner rights.” The group asserts that culture has been misappropriated in preparation for the Games.

Organisers of the campaign say they welcome the formal support from the Traditional Owners. “While some seek to divide and discredit Indigenous Australia, this support is further evidence that the Aboriginal people are united in opposition to the ongoing criminal genocide that is being perpetrated against the Aboriginal people” said Black GST supporter and Aboriginal Elder, Robbie Thorpe.

“We now have endorsement from the VTOLJG and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the aims and objectives of the Campaign and we are looking forward to hosting all indigenous and non-indigenous supporters from across Australia in March,” he said. The Black GST group have said “the convergence will be held as a peaceful, family-focussed demonstration against genocide, and for the restoration of sovereignty and the negotiations towards a Treaty.”

But the campaign has received flak in mainstream media, such as Melbourne’s Herald Sun, who wrote: “the proposal to allow BlackGST to set up an Aboriginal tent embassy at a site well away from the Commonwealth Games will be interpreted by some as the State Government caving in to a radical protest group. A major concern for the Government… is to protect the event from disruption… no chances should be taken…”

The Black GST has been planning the convergence for months, calling for Aboriginal people and their supporters to converge on Melbourne. The Melbourne-based Indigenous rights group have called on thousands of people concerned about the plight of indigenous Australians to converge on Melbourne during the Games, which they have dubbed “the Stolenwealth Games”. But the choice of Kings Domain has made conflict almost inevitable, as the area is one of the areas gazetted by the State Government as a “Games management zone”.

Under the Commonwealth Games Arrangements Act, any area gazetted as a management zone is subject to a range of specific laws – including bans on protesting, creating a disturbance and other activities. The protest bans will be in effect at different times and places, and offenders can be arrested. A spokeswoman for the Black GST, which advocates peaceful protest, said the site had been chosen because it was close to where the Queen will stay on March 15. “We figured that she is only in Melbourne for 27 hours or something like that so we thought we would make it easy for her to come next door and see us,” she said. “We are a very open, welcoming group, so she will be welcome to come and join us.”

Kings Domain is the burial site for 38 indigenous forefathers of Victoria. Black GST elder, Targan, said trade union groups have offered to install infrastructure at the site. The group initially worked with the State Government to find a suitable camp site, but the relationship broke down when the Government failed to meet a deadline imposed by the protesters. “While we are disappointed the ministers were not able to meet deadline on our request, we thank them for their constructive approach towards negotiations and the open-door policy exercised,” said Targan.

A spokesman for Games Minister Justin Madden said the Government was still investigating other sites. Victoria Police Games security commander Brendan Bannan said he was not convinced the Black GST represented the views of most indigenous people. “We are dealing with the Aboriginal community and they don’t seem to support it at all … the wider Aboriginal community don’t support disruption to the Games at all,” he said.

The Government was told that Black GST supporters would camp in Fitzroy Gardens and other city parks should it fail to nominate a site. A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavan Jennings said the Government was taking the issue seriously, but had not been able to finalise a campsite before the deadline.

Under special Games laws, people protesting or causing a disturbance in “Games management zones” can be arrested and fined. While prominent public spaces such as Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, Albert Park and the Alexandra Gardens fall under the legislation, such tough anti-protest laws cannot be enforced in the nearby Fitzroy Gardens.

Games chairman Ron Walker has urged the group to choose another date for its protest march through the city, which is currently planned to coincide with the opening ceremony on March 15. The group believes that an opportunity to gain attention for indigenous issues was lost at the Sydney Olympics and has vowed to make a highly visible presence at the Games.

The Black GST said the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s sacred flame, burning over many years at the Canberra site will be carried to Melbourne before the Games, and its arrival would mark the opening of the protest camp from where a march will proceed to the MCG before the Opening Ceremony.

Black GST claims supporters from all over Australia, including three busloads from the West Australian Land Council, will gather in Melbourne during the Games for peaceful protests.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings had offered Victoria Park to the protesters. Victoria Park, former home of Collingwood Football Club, where one of the strongest statements of Aboriginal pride, when St Kilda star Nicky Winmar in 1993 raised his jumper and pointed to his bare chest after racial taunts from the Collingwood crowd.

Black GST, which has labelled the Games the Stolenwealth Games, said the State Government had failed to find a suitable venue. Black GST may encourage protesters to camp in prominent parks such as Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens. Graffiti supporting the action has also appeared in central Melbourne.

Melbourne City councillor Fraser Brindley has offered his home to the Black GST organisers. “I offered my home up to people who are organising visitors to come to the Games,” he said. Cr Brindley will be overseas when the Commonwealth Games are held and has offered the free accommodation at his flat at Parkville. He said he agreed with the protesters’ view that treaties needed to be signed with indigenous Australians. “I’m offering it up to the indigenous people who are coming to remind Her Majesty that her Empire took this land from them,” said Cr Brindlley. Nationals leader Peter Ryan said: “This extremist group has no part in the Australian community.” Melbourne councillor Peter Clarke said the actions were embarrassing and that he would try to discourage him. “It’s not in the spirit of the Games,” he said.

Aboriginal elder, Targan, said the possibility of securing Victoria Park was delightfully ironic. “There’s a lot of irony going on,” Targan, 53, a PhD student at Melbourne University, said. “GST stands for Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty. We want the genocide of our people to stop; we want some sovereignty over traditional land, certainly how it is used, and we want a treaty with the government,” Targan said.

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