The Cronulla Sharks have distanced themselves from former squad member Cruz Topai-Aveai after he was filmed climbing on a police car at a protest in Brisbane.
Thousands of people flocked to inner-city Brisbane on Saturday to protest police brutality against indigenous Australians and call for justice for those who have died in custody.
Crowds spilled from King George Square to neighbouring blocks, with people packing stairwells and balconies to get a view while others brandished signs calling for reform in Queensland and across the globe.
Topai-Aveai, formerly contracted to the Cronulla Sharks, was among the protesters.
The 21-year-old was seen shouting at police and grabbing the bullbar of a police car before climbing on top of it.
He was reportedly detained by police but not arrested.
The Sharks addressed the furore on Sunday.
“In response to media enquires surrounding Cruz Topai-Aveai and his apparent involvement in the protest march in Brisbane yesterday, the Cronulla Sharks can confirm he is no longer a contracted player at the club,” a club statement said.
“Cruz requested a release and signed a deed of termination/release from his NRL contract on May 1 this year.”
Topai-Aveai played six games for the Newtown Jets (Cronulla’s feeder club) but never played first grade.
A former NRL player seen jumping on a police car at yesterday's protest in the city has explained why he did it. Cruz Topai-Aveai was unapologetic posting on social media that he was 'fed up' with 'cruelty' and 'disrespect'. https://t.co/EuC7kYFvHB #NRL #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/6pPc47Mi0S— 7NEWS Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) June 7, 2020
Topai-Aveai explains attack on police
He posted a number of updates at the protests throughout the day before explaining his shock outburst.
“Yes this is me. If you have any questions, shoot me a dm,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Know the story behind the video, you didn’t see the part where I bust a locked door open to escape so I could calm down, I weeped on my brother Jalen Reweti shoulder and had his beautiful partner Tupu there to help calm me.
“I am furious. I am angry. I am young. I am dumb. I am whatever you think I am.
“Most of all I am fed up of Police abusing their privilege to wear their uniform.”
Topai-Aveai also re-posted the video showing his attack on the police car.
“This is for my brothers and sisters who have been oppressed for 100s of years by the White man. They’ve treated us like dogs for centuries, they’ve painted us with dirty brushes and they’ve created a system where only the white survive. Do your research mother f***ers,” he wrote.
“If you are offended that I swear and miss the message ... you sir are apart of the f***en problem. I love Christ. He lives within me which makes me fearless to all men. Only God I fear.
“This was hurt and pain for my brothers and sisters who have had to suffer years of pain under the white law! THIS IS MY PROTEST AT A ‘PEACEFUL PROTEST’ love it or leave it. I don’t care. This is Me, this is the Cruz the system designed.
“They want to treat us and our beloved ancestors with cruelty and disrespect like we are caged animals ... I’ll give you a caged animal.”