Thousands Rally Against Violent Crime After Darwin Bottleshop Worker Murdered

Thousands of demonstrators have rallied outside Darwin’s Parliament House in the wake of the alleged murder of Declan Laverty. Some participants arrived holding homemade signs with messages such as “#justiceforDeclan”, “make Darwin safe again” and “get tough on crime”. More than 2000 people attended the Darwin rally, with a smaller event held in Katherine at the same time. Many in the Darwin crowd sported yellow and black in honour of the slain bottleshop worker’s favourite AFL footy team, Richmond, while a Tigers jersey lay among dozens of bouquets of flowers placed on the steps of parliament. “Enough is enough” was the rallying cry, repeated several times throughout the morning. Cobie Campbell, a mother of six and one of the rally’s organisers, was the first to address the crowd, some of whom were visibly emotional during the speeches. “Tragically a young man lost his life at work for us to stand as one and demand action from the government,” she said.

“We stand with you as regular Territorians, fed up with uncontrolled crime. We have no political affiliation.” Addressing the Territory government directly, Ms Campbell said “please, stop deflecting and start giving answers, we want to see results”. “I used to have more hope and joy before my family was affected by crime and I had to litter my house with weapons in order to defend them, if necessary,” she said. “Samara and Damian, Declan’s parents, used to have more hope before their son was killed at work.” There were various calls for “Declan’s law” to be established. While it was unclear what exactly that law might be, it reflected the general mood among the crowd that the government should introduce more punitive responses to criminal offending. Ms Campbell thanked parliamentary speaker Mark Monaghan for approving the rally but told the crowd the City of Darwin had rejected a march through the CBD.

“I don’t know about you, but I will be taking a leisurely stroll with my family down Mitchell Street today,” she said to cheers. Ms Campbell told the crowd to walk in silence in honour of Declan and a minute’s silence was also held during the speeches. One of the speakers, Widjabul woman of the Bundjalung nation, Cindy Roberts, called for more to be done about “out of control” drug and alcohol use in the NT. “We have lost so many lives in the NT through drug and alcohol consumption, our kids should be able to walk the street and come home to their parents” she said. Ms Roberts also called for the age alcohol can be purchased to be raised from 18 to 21. Ms Campbell’s daughter, Sadé Dobson, who also helped organise the rally, was the final speaker, reading out recent statistics that show rising crime rates in the Top End. “To the NT government, this is just embarrassing, we’re all held to account when we do our jobs, and we’re going to hold you to account too,” she said.

Shortly before 11am, the march began moving down Mitchell St, turning left at Daly Street and ending at Bicentennial Park on the Esplanade. Organisers’ requests that the crowd stick to the footpaths and follow traffic rules were largely adhered to, with police positioned along the route. An NT Police spokeswoman confirmed 17 officers had been deployed to monitor the march and ensure community safety. “All participants behaved appropriately and respectfully, there were no arrests made and no fines issued,” she said. Faith Taylor has been living in Darwin for 45 years and said she was marching to see “justice for Declan”. “It affects us as people, as a society, as a parent, what Declan’s parents must be going through now is absolutely devastating, since my son passed away, I’ve never been the same,” she said. Ms Taylor hoped to see tougher penalties for violent crimes and fewer offenders being released on bail.

Another protester, 23-year-old Penina Tom, had taken the day off work to show her support. “All this crime, violence, drugs, everything with these young kids, it just pisses me off, it pisses everyone off,” she said. “Get a life, get a job, do something.” Penina Tom took the day off work to show her support at the rally. A Palmerston couple who experienced a home invasion seven years ago said it was a big part of why they wanted tougher penalties for violent offenders. “It could have been me that was killed … but I would have been killed in my house, at home in front of my daughter,” the man, who did not want to be named, said. His partner, Anita Fourro, said she was sad the government had “let it come to this”. “I have three children, all of them are going into the business sector, and I fear for them right now, because the government doesn’t protect everyone,” she said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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