The Northern Territory Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker has urged people to embrace rather than feel hate in a time of high tension, as a police officer was charged with murder over the shooting of an indigenous teenager.
NT Police Constable Zachary Rolfe, 28, was on Wednesday charged with murder and granted bail face court in Alice Springs on December 19.
Constable Rolfe had made it clear he would plead not guilty and "vigorously contest the charge", NT Police Association President Paul McCue said.
More than 1000 people protested in Alice Springs on Thursday, including many indigenous Warlpiri people who had travelled to the city from various remote communities, including Yuendumu where Kumanjayi Walker was shot on Saturday night.
That rally follows other demonstrations in Darwin, Adelaide, Melbourne and elsewhere with emotions running high among indigenous people and Mr Walker's death a flashpoint for anger over the treatment of Aboriginal people by police, including deaths in custody.
There is also anger among the police union and some rank-and-file police officers over the laying of a murder charge against Constable Rolfe so quickly after the event, with speculation it was politically motivated and related to protests around the country.
Mr Chalker rejected that, saying the NT Police process would always be "free of political influence" while he was in charge.
"Hate should not have a place in the Northern Territory, we are renowned for how we support one another, for how we embrace one another in times of tragedy and we have had many," he said.
"Through every single one of those tragedies, the members of the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services have been there running towards that trouble to protect you.
"I need more than ever all of my officers to step to the fore, to trust in one another, to trust in the process, to remember the oath they took and the importance of integrity, ethics and fairness."
Constable Rolfe, who was suspended with pay, received numerous bravery awards after saving two Hong Kong tourists from floodwaters in 2016 and was previously in the army.
Mr Walker died after he was shot at Yuendumu, 300 kilometres from Alice Springs, on Saturday night when two police officers went there to arrest him for breaches of the terms of his release from prison on October 21 on property and stealing offences.
Australian Associated Press