News World As US police are charged over attack, indigenous Australians call for action

As US police are charged over attack, indigenous Australians call for action

A viral video shows two young people being pulled from their car by police officers. Photo: Atlanta Police Department
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Six police officers in the US city of Atlanta have been charged after horrifying video showed them shooting tasers at a young couple and dragging them from their car.

College students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young said “we thought we were going to die in that car” when police smashed in their windows as they sat in traffic near a protest over the death of George Floyd.

It’s just one of the videos emerging out of the US showing police using brutal tactics on protesters, bystanders and journalists – including Australian media – during ongoing unrest over the treatment of black Americans.

The probe into the Atlanta officers comes as US police are expected to face questioning over the beating of two Australian journalists outside the White House.

The police crackdowns follow US President Donald Trump’s advice to state governors that they need to aggressively target violent protesters.

Demonstrations in the US have also encouraged indigenous Australians to speak up about the way police interact with them, with hundreds taking part in a rally in Sydney on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the family of an indigenous teen who was kicked by a policeman is expected to make a stand outside NSW State Parliament as they call for more discipline for the officer.

Video released on Tuesday showed the boy and his friends trading verbal barbs with police before he allegedly said “I’ll crack you in the f—ing jaw.”

A policeman walks about five metres to the teen and asks him to put his hands behind his back. The constable then kicks the boy’s legs and he falls to the ground before officers pin him down.

A bystander can be heard yelling “You just slammed him on his face. He’s in pain.”

Police shot, Donald Trump calls for military intervention

Mr Trump said troops should take to the streets of New York City, while elsewhere five officers were shot and wounded as police clashed with protesters nationwide.

On the latest day of anger over Mr Floyd’s death, some people looted shops in New York and set fire to a Los Angeles strip mall.

Four officers were shot and wounded in St Louis, Missouri, and one in Las Vegas was critically wounded, authorities said.

Mr Trump has threatened to use the military to battle the violence.

“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD. The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!” he tweeted.

‘Stop, stop, stop’

In dramatic body-camera footage, Ms Pilgrim and Mr Young can be heard screaming and begging not to be hurt as police use stun guns.

“Stop, stop, stop…I’m getting out,” Ms Pilgrim screams before she is dragged from the sedan.

Two of the policemen caught on camera attacking the young black couple were fired after the video was released on the weekend – but lawyers for the victims have called for criminal charges.

Authorities announced on Wednesday morning (Australian time) that warrants had been issued for officers Lonnie Hood, Willie Sauls, Ivory Streeter, Mark Gardner, Armond Jones and Roland Claud.

An officer points his handgun at Messiah Young in his car in Atlanta. Photo: Atlanta Police Department via AP

Police cleared crowd with tear gas, force – so Trump could pose for a photo

In Australia, Seven Network bosses said Amelia Brace and Tim Myers were subjected to “nothing short of wanton thuggery” when police clubbed them and hit them with a riot shield as they stood to the side of a demonstration outside the White House.

Australia’s ambassador to the US, Arthur Sinodinos, said was “aware of the treatment”, after Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she’d asked the embassy to investigate.

The confrontation came as police cleared a peaceful protest outside the White House so Mr Trump could walk to a nearby historic church for a photo opportunity after announcing he had ordered the military onto US streets to quell demonstrations.

donald trump
Mr Trump outside St John’s Church on Tuesday (AEST). Photo: AAP

“We are providing consular support to the Australian citizens involved and my team will continue to check on their wellbeing,” Mr Sinodinos said.

“I understand that Channel Seven will make a formal police complaint asking to have the matter investigated.

“We are in discussion with the State Department and they have offered assistance to identify where the complaint should be targeted.

“As Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, emphasised overnight, Australia is always supportive of people’s right to peaceful protest and we encourage all involved to exercise restraint and to avoid violence.”

Brace and Myers were shot with rubber bullets and struggled to breathe after tear gas was fired at the crowd.

Brace said they were “pretty bruised, but OK”.

A cloud of tear gas dissipates in front of police. Photo: AAP

The US ambassador to Australia, Arthur Culvahouse, said the US took mistreatment of journalists seriously.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting journalists and guaranteeing equal justice under law for all,” Mr Culvahouse said.

-with AAP