Two hundred people marched in Kalgoorlie on February 24 to protest the possible parole of a man who deliberately ran down and killed 14-year-old Elijah Doughty in August 2016. The man had pursued Doughty in a four-wheel-drive through bushland in Boulder, 600 kilometres east of Perth, because he believed the motorbike Doughty was riding had been stolen from his home.
The man was acquitted of manslaughter and sentenced to three years’ jail after his conviction for dangerous driving causing death. He reportedly has a parole hearing soon and may be released after serving just 18 months in jail.
Elijah’s grandfather Albert Doughty told the ABC the looming release of the man responsible for the teenager's death has deeply hurt his family and reopened old wounds.
"It's just like it happened yesterday," he said.
“He should have got more time. He got a slap on the wrist in other words. It sends the wrong message: you kill a black and you can get away with it.”
His grandmother Rhonda Tucker said the march was calling for justice. “Eighteen months is not enough,” she said.
Half a dozen counter-protesters confronted the rally, holding signs reading “All lives matter”, “Harsher measures for all crime” and “Kalgoorlie residents have had enough”.
A leaflet calling for a “cull a thief day” was found outside the Kalgoorlie train station. “If a thief was to steal my motorbike, I would run him down with my Nissan Navara,” it said in large red writing. Police are investigating.
The marchers made their way into the centre of Kalgoorlie, where they gathered in St Barbara's Square for speeches.
Health worker Victor Smith said he wanted the rally to send a message of solidarity. Smith, who runs sporting clinics for local youths, said he was concerned Aboriginal children were being targeted further in the wake of Elijah's death.
"My son brings kids home every weekend," he said. "If you don't get them out of town, on the right track, what's going to happen?"
He said he was increasingly frustrated at the way he was treated in the local community. "We all get painted with the same brush; this bloke doesn't work, that bloke doesn't work.
“If a white bloke can run a kid over and walk out in 18 months, what does that say about Australia?"