Vandals deface Australia's Myall Creek memorial

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Monday, January 31, 2005

Inverell, Australia —Police are investigating damage to a memorial to the 28 victims of the Myall Creek massacre. The Plaques which are in the town of Inverell in northern New South Wales, Australia had the words "murder", "women" and "children" hammered from it leaving the plaque unreadable.

Inverell police Senior Constable Chris Curtin said that "We got reports [from a local aboriganal elder] that deep gouges have been scratched into the plaques along the memorial walk. Several of the plaques will have to be replaced."

The NSW government has reacted to the event by calling the vandalism an appalling and insulting crime. "This is a gross act of vandalism, Defacing this memorial is disrespectful and insulting to the people who were murdered, and their families." Aboriginal Affairs Minister Andrew Refshauge said.

"All you're doing is really showing the blackness in your own heart, the sadness of your own spirit - there is much more at stake here than that," Mr Refshauge continued. "The reconciliation of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the region is already a powerful movement - join it, don't trash it."

The Myall Creek massacre is particually important in Australian history, as it marks the first time that Europeans were charged and convicted of murdering Aborigines. "It was the first occasion when European law was applied to deliver justice for Aboriginal people," Mr Refshauge said. "That's why this act of vandalism is especially appalling."