Rape investigation strains racial tensions
By CHRIS LYNCHchrisl@gladstoneobserver.com.au
RELATIONS have become strained between Gladstone's Aboriginal community and police who are hunting a rape suspect.
The teenage girl was allegedly raped in the vicinity of the Goondoon and Yarroon streets intersection between 2am and 2.40am on March 6.
She supplied police with a comfit image of a suspect, and police have since taken DNA samples of local men of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander appearance.
Aboriginal spokespeople Melody and Julie Ingra, along with Nikki Johnson said yesterday police had been 'disrespectful' in asking their friends and family members for DNA samples.
They say police have caused embarrassment by knocking on doors and asking men in the street to accompany them for DNA samples.
As well as this they say that police liaison officers are not being used effectively, and that white victims are given more attention than black ones.
District Inspector Rowan Bond 'refuted completely the claims made by Aboriginal elders.
"All complaints are investigated to the nth degree. In this particular instance the victim has nominated a person they believe to be of indige- nous appearance, and we will follow it up the same as if it was a white guy,' Insp Bond said.
'A large number of samples have been taken in relation to the matter. The samples are requested and the person volunteers them.
'Some have been taken based on information provided to the police by the public.'
Yesterday Gladstone Head of Ju- venile Aid Bureau Detective Ser- geant Ian Hutchieson also respond- ed, by saying those suspects tested had cooperated willingly.
'Only people fitting the comfit, or people who have been nominated have been tested,' Det Sgt Hutchie- son said.
'If a name is brought up we will ask them for a voluntary test as a way of trying to discount them.'
Mrs Julie Ingra took the opportu- nity to ask for a more open flow of communication between police and the Aboriginal community.
'We know they have a job to do but we want them to treat people respectfully. There are people who are unhappy with the way it's being done.'
Insp Bond said he was willing to participate in a community forum on the topic, and would involve his officers.