More than 3000 people gathered outside Sydney Town Hall on November 2 to call for justice for 15-year-old Cassius Turvey, a Noongar boy who died after being attacked with an iron bar on his way home from school.
Rowena Welsh-Jarrett delivered a welcome to country, expressing solidarity with the Turvey family. She also spoke about the death of 16-year-old Thungutti boy Jai Wright in Sydney earlier this year and TJ Hickey who was killed in 2004.
The crowd lit candles and listened to First Nations leaders and Cassius’ family members speak about the boy who inspired his friends and was a well-loved member of his community.
Responding to Western Australian Police Commissioner Col Blanch’s comment that Cassius was in the wrong place at the wrong time, speakers said that “no Black child is ever in the wrong place at the wrong time on their own land”.
Sharing her grief, MC Lizzie Jarrett spoke about the fear of every Black mother about the safety of their children. Inviting “all the young Black boys” to the stage, she asked the crowd to promise to protect children.
“We are sick of losing our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our uncles and aunties,” Dharug woman Shanaya Donovan said.
Jarrett and Wiradjuri woman Lynda-June Coe read a statement from Cassius’ mother Mechelle Turvey which spoke of Cassius’ adventurous and hard-working spirit. She promised to fight for justice for her son.
Other speakers included Cassius’ Uncle Lyon, Wiradjuri woman Jenny Munro, Bundjalung Widubul-Wiabul woman Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts, Whadjuk Noongar woman and TV presenter Narelda Jacobs, Yamatji man and renowned actor Ernie Dingo, school student from School Strike 4 Climate and Wiradjuri youth Ethan Lyons, community leaders Uncle Dave Bell and Uncle Shane Plymouth, Jasmine Speedy and NSW Greens Senator David Shoebridge.
Malyangapa-Barkindji rapper Barkaa gave a powerful performance of “I can’t breathe”, a song about the Black Lives Matter movement, to end the moving vigil.