From the ABC:
Murder case stokes Alice’s racial tensions
By Sara Everingham for AM | abc.net.au/am
The cross at the place where Kwementyaye Ryder died
was burnt on Friday night. (aliceonline.com.au: Dave Richards)
Emotions have been running high in Alice Springs because of suspicions that the recent death of an Aboriginal man was the result of a racially motivated attack.
Five white men have been charged with the murder of the 33-year-old man, who for cultural reasons is now known as Kwementyaye Ryder.
His family wants everyone to remain calm but that may be easier said than done, after a memorial to the dead man was burnt at the weekend.
Kwementyaye Ryder’s aunt, Margie Lynch says the town of Alice Springs is still in shock two months after the man’s death.
“Immediately everyone is affected. The local community is affected. Both Aboriginal people and white people,” she said.
Kwementyaye Ryder was found lying on the side of a road after an alleged fight with a group of men seen in a car.
Police say the car had earlier been seen driving through the dry bed of the Todd River, disturbing groups of Aboriginal people who were camping.
Five white men aged between 19 and 24 have been charged with murder and are facing the courts.
Kwementyere Ryder’s sister-in-law, Karen Liddle, says those men are well known in the community.
“Our families are intermarried and connected through school, sport and all that. It was really hard for us to cope with,” she said.
The families of two of the accused have met Ms Liddle and her husband to express their condolences.
Police are at pains to say the alleged attack was not racially motivated.
But the acting commander in Alice Springs, Kym Davies, agrees the death has the potential to fuel racial tension.
“In this matter there has been a great deal of work done by a number of people, not the least the families to try and quell any uprisings or any outbreaks of violence,” he said.
“And to the Ryder family, they are to be congratulated for the work that they have done in this area, and they have made no bones about the fact that they would like calm, and that has happened so there has not been any incidents as a result of that death.”
But the fragile peace is under threat.
A white cross at the place where Kwementyaye Ryder died is now only just standing up after being burnt on Friday night.
Kwementyaye Ryder’s mother, Theresa Ryder, says she is deeply upset.
“The people that are responsible for doing this, it is not a really good thing for us families, you know. It broke our hearts,” she told the editor of Alice Online, Dave Richards.
“They should leave us alone then, leave our cross alone.”
Ms Ryder, who is a well-known watercolour artist, says many in Alice Springs have given her support, but she says the town is not the place it once was.
“Alice Springs was once a happy town where my kids grew up and went to school, made a lot of friends with the school friends that they grew up with,” she said.
“Now it is a very sad town. The town is not the same any more. This town is full racist thing, you know.”
The family is frustrated more is not being done to promote understanding and also that there is little discussion about ways to bring different groups together in Alice Springs.