A modern-day reenactment: the murder trial of Ned Kelly
This is the story of a courageous hero. A valiant leader and bold luminary, who was not afraid to stand up for justice. It's the story of a man who was not afraid to stand up for his family and his community, and fight to defend against an oppressive government and a corrupt and violent police force.
This brave man is Ned Kelly. And it is precisely because of his strong sense of justice and leadership ability that made him a target of the police and government.
We've seen that the police would resort to uncivilized violence for the sake of maintaining order in a rigged system, that reduced the Irish Catholics of this country to poor, 2nd class citizens. The police were blindly carrying out the British government's system, which relegated the Irish Catholics to permanent inferior status. It was a system that enforced British national superiority.
But Ned was not one to passively accept this kind of inequality. And that's what turned him into an enemy in the eyes of the government.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ned Kelly is innocent. He sits before you here today, not because of any true malice or evil that he actually harbored. He sits before you on trial for simply exercising his right of self-defense against ongoing and repeated violent and aggressive police attacks on him and his family.
The Real Story of this Trial
Let's recap the evidence presented to you in today's trial, starting from the beginning. Ned comes from a proud Irish Catholic family who always resented the culture of control and dominance established by the British empire. Ned and his friends challenged corrupt police, greedy land barons and the wealthy establishment in a quest to reform society for the better.
That's why the constables despised him. So they hunted him down, repeatedly harassed him, and falsely accused him of wrongdoing. They arrested his mother and friends only to intimidate him. They arrested Ned himself based on invented stories of stolen horses or being drunk in public. The police came to his house and instigated deadly shootouts with Ned and his friends. You heard evidence of one constable, Fitzpatrick, really had it out for Ned. He sexually assaulted Ned's sister and then spread a false rumor that Ned had attacked him.
In spite of such mistreatment by the police, the testimony you've heard here has demonstrated that Ned has a solid character. He was extremely loyal to his family, friends, and supporters. He was intelligent and articulate, and attempted to advocate for independence and dignity for his people by writing numerous editorials and letters. Yet the British-controlled newspapers refused to publish Ned's writings. Ned and his crew might have held up two British-run towns and robbed British banks, but they did so without firing a single shot. Moreover, Ned wrote numerous essays owning up to this disobedience -- he never tried to run and hide. In these letters that were ignored by the press, Ned explained that his actions were part of a larger moral movement for independence.
You saw an example of Ned's writings in his Jerilderie letter of February 10, 1879, wherein he demanded equal treatment. You'll have a chance to review that letter again in your deliberations. That letter was just one of countless examples of Ned's intelligent and civilized efforts to voice opposition to the inequalities of the British system. Ned was not alone -- his letters reflected the sentiments of countless followers. Unfortunately, rather than cooperating with Ned and his followers, the police reacted to the Jerilderie letter with even harsher and more vicious militaristic tactics.