An end to all-white juries in deaths in custody cases was the key demand issued by a rally held Thursday on the steps of Western Australia’s Parliament House.
Noongar Elder Ben Taylor who, performed the welcome to country, said Indigenous people deserved juries who gave them a fair go.
“Over the years I have carried coffins up here as we lost our people in custody,” he said.
“I have learnt a lot in my 83 years… it is always the same, nothing has changed.”
Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA deputy chairman Desmond Blurton said the acquittal of police and prison officers over death in custody cases was a continuation of colonial violence.
“Since Aboriginal people have been subjected to colonial laws, our people have been murdered by either police or in massacres,” he said.
“The all-white jury system is racist and biased against Aboriginal justice.
“(They) let people walk free from the crime of murder.”
Mr Blurton said the campaign group wanted recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody implemented fully, and the age of incarceration lifted to 18.
Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation director Robert Eggington said racism remained entrenched in every government institution.
“All white juries acquit police officers… when it is more than evident that they killed our young people,” he said.
Mr Eggington spoke about this own son Robert Jr. being charged with multiple offences, including assaulting an officer and inciting a riot, after he was attacked, and being exonerated by security footage.
“I went into Westrail’s office and I demanded the CCTV footage from the platforms and the train,” he said.
“That footage gave me my jury and judge, that footage saved my son.”
Mr Eggington also cited several prominent examples of Aboriginal deaths in custody, including John Pat in Roebourne, 1983, and Ms Dhu in South Hedland, 2014.
The campaign currently has a petition on GetUp’s website.