Justice for John Pat

A silent march through Campbelltown was held to mark John Pat Memorial Day on September 29. Photo: Leon Gross

More than 100 people rallied on Dharawal land, in Campbelltown, to mark John Pat Memorial Day on September 29. 

Pat, a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy, was killed on September 28, 1983, after a fight erupted between a drunken off-duty police officer and local Aboriginal people in Roebourne, Western Australia. Pat was passing by at the time and was drawn into the melee by police.

Pat was subsequently struck by a police officer, falling backwards and hitting his head on the pavement. Denied medical assistance, he died a just a little more than an hour after he was locked up. 

An autopsy revealed Pat had sustained huge blows to the head.

Pat’s killing led to national protests that have continued to this day. John Pat Memorial Rallies played an important role in pushing for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. 

The Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) Sydney organised this year’s rally. Protesters heard from local elder Uncle Ivan Wellington, Aboriginal activists Pete and Raymond Allan Weatherall, young indigenous leaders and ISJA spokesperson Raul Bassi.

Protesters then proceeded on a silent march through Campbelltown, holding large pictures of the many victims of the racist imprisonment system. 

Meanwhile, rallies were held in Sydney and Perth on September 20 in response to a judge refusing to allow a retrial of a man accused of murdering three Aboriginal children in Bowraville, NSW, 28 years ago.

[A stop deaths in custody rally will take place in Kempsey, the home of David Dungay, on October 13 to demand justice for Dungay who died in police custody.]