Aboriginal deaths in custody

Members of the family of David Dungay, who was killed by prison officers in Long Bay jail almost two years ago, gathered outside the Coroners Court on November 8 to demand justice and that action be taken against those officers involved in his death.

Speaking to the media, David's mother Leetona said: "After two years, this process has taken too long. We are going to fight this to the end. My son has been cruelly taken away from us, and I am demanding that justice is finally done for him."

About 30 people attended a meeting on February 23 on the theme: "How can we stop deaths in custody and hold the police to account?". The meeting was organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA).

ISJA member Cheryl Kaulfuss spoke about the death of Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey as a result of police action in Redfern in 2004. Nationwide protests on the anniversary of his death led to the formation of ISJA Melbourne.

A rally for justice for David Dungay-Hill Jnr, a Dunghutti man from Kempsey, was held in Sydney on December 29.

Dungay-Hill was a 26-year-old Aboriginal man who was an inmate in Long Bay Prison. A sufferer of chronic diabetes, Dungay-Hill ate a biscuit in his cell to restore his blood sugar levels. For this “crime”, eight officers restrained him while another administered a sedative. Seconds later he cried “I can't breathe” and within a minute he was dead.

In a statement at the time, Corrective Services NSW said police were not treating the death as suspicious.

A defiant action was organised on October 22 to protest the recent murder in custody of Wayne “Fella” Morrison.

Morrison died at Royal Adelaide Hospital on September 26, three days after a beating by prison guards at Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison left him brain dead.

This is the Australian version of the open letter created by Letters for Black Lives, an ongoing project for people to create and translate resources on anti-Blackness for their communities in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter.

* * *
Mum, Dad, Uncle, Auntie, Grandfather, Grandmother:

We need to talk.

You may not have grown up around people who are Black, Aboriginal or African but I have. Black people are a fundamental part of my life: they are my friends, my classmates and teammates, my roommates, my family. Today, I'm scared for them.

Thousands of people have rallied at cities across Australia in response to the footage coming out on ABC's Four Corners showing the torture of Aboriginal kids in the Darwin Don Dale correction centre.

Rallies are demanding the people responsible be brought to justice and the Don Dale correction centre be shut down.

Here are photos of the rallies:

Sydney

Photos by Zebedee Parkes


The killing of two African American men
in Minnesota and Louisiana in early July created an uproar across the US and around the world. In Australia there was lots of social media commentary and letters to the press about US racism.

A rally for justice for Eddie Murray, a 21-year-old Aboriginal man who was killed by "persons unknown" while detained in Wee Waa police station in north-western NSW on June 12, 1981, was held in Sydney on the anniversary of his death.

Anna Murray, Eddie's younger sister recalled answering the door to the police who had come to arrest her brother 34 years ago. At 16, she was the last member of the family to see Eddie alive.

She said that there had never been a protest in Wee Waa over her brother's death and she proposed that one be held there this time next year.

A rally for justice for Eddie Murray, a young Aboriginal man who was killed by "persons unknown" while detained in Wee Waa police station in north-western NSW on June 12, 1981. Anna Murray, Eddie's younger sister recalled answering the door to the police who came to arrest her brother 34 years ago. She was the last member of the family to see Eddie alive. She added that there had never been a protest in Wee Waa over her brother's death and she proposed that one be held there this time next year.

A 59-year-old Aboriginal man died in Darwin on May 21 while being held under controversial new “paperless arrest laws”. These laws give police the powers to arrest people for summary offences — such as “obscenity”, undue noise, offensive language — and hold them for up to four hours at a time.

In NSW, a program that has been proved to prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody has lost funding under the federal government’s ironically named Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

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