The New South Wales Police Force has apologised for historical violence against the LGBTIQ community on the 40th anniversary of the first Sydney Mardi Gras march in 1978.
That night, their celebratory Mardi Gras parade was violently broken up by police and 53 of the marchers were arrested, beaten and publicly shamed in the media.
At a special gathering at the site of the original protest in Sydney on the weekend, Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell apologised on behalf of Commissioner Mick Fuller for the police brutality against the marchers, who are now known as the ’78ers.
“We have, we will, and we do apologise for the police actions in 1978, and for the pain and hurt that the police caused due to their actions in 1978,” Crandell said.
He said LGBTIQ people had told him of their subsequent fear of police officers, which he described as “a massive failure” of policing.
“That should never happen again, and it certainly shouldn’t happen on my watch,” he said.
“There should never be fear of police officers.
“The ’78ers have so many qualities that I absolutely admire: courage, persistence.
“To see the black and white of 1978 versus 2018, what a remarkable feeling that must be, to see what it was then and to see what it is now.”
Crandell said the force now had trained Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers spread across New South Wales.
“Their function is to ensure equality and inclusiveness not only in our organisation but also outside,” he said.
In addition, every single police recruit now receives training from members of the LGBTIQ community to help them understand their experiences and the issues facing them, he said.
“I look forward to the future. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.
The New South Wales Police Force first apologised to the 78ers in 2016, and earlier this year, the force flew a rainbow flag at their headquarters in Sydney for the first time to mark Mardi Gras’ historic 40th anniversary.
To read more about the 78ers, click here.
(Photo by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)
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