Relatives and supporters of David Dungay Jnr took over the town of Kempsey, in north coast New South Wales, to speak out against a corrective services system that claimed the life of the 26-year-old Dunghutti man.
Dungay, who was from Kempsey, died while in police custody in 2015 after being pinned down by prison officers and injected with strong sedatives for refusing to stop eating biscuits. He was due to be released three weeks later.
The protest was co-ordinated by David’s mother, Leetona, his family and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA). It was part of a series of efforts to shed light on the ongoing battle to hold corrective services accountable as the coronial inquiry into Dungay’s death continues.
The inquiry, which began in July last year, will hand down its final findings in Lidcombe Coroners Court on September 13.
The protest gathered near the local police station. Organisers, led by Aunty Lizzy Jarrett, coordinated a security cordon around the protesters as some racist locals had attempted to harass and run down demonstrators during a similar action last year.
Led by Leetona, protesters marched through the streets of Kempsey and finished at the local farmers’ market, where speeches were given.
Speakers emphasised that David Dungay would be alive today if officers had simply done nothing that day. They also noted that, under the current system, there are too many cops and never enough justice.
Jarrett and Leetona closed the action with a message to all community members, saying no one is safe from the inherently racist and murderous “justice system” and “corrective services”.
Leetona reminded those present that “truth is the only way towards justice” and that “truth is our strongest weapon against these forces”.
Let this truth lead to justice in the coronal findings.
[Rozi Komlos is an ISJA member. Members of the Dungay family and supporters will gather at the Coroners Court in Lidcombe, on September 13, at 9am. For further information contact ISJA on Facebook or call Raul Bassi 0403 037 376.]