“All lives don’t matter until black lives matter,” a young protester in Sydney told the ABC on Tuesday night.
American George Floyd’s death has triggered distress in Australia’s Indigenous families about their own people’s continued deaths at the hands of authorities.
Change appeared to come after a Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody more than 30 years ago. But we have had 430 deaths since then.
Last year an inquest was held in to the death of a Dunghutti man, David Dungay, at the hands of prison authorities, while he made the same repeated comment as George Floyd, “I can’t breathe”.
Later, in a coronial inquest the prison officers argued that they thought if he could talk, he could breathe. But when you see the video played to the court of David’s last moments, it seems amazing that anyone involved didn’t think their behaviour would risk David’s life.
The coroner in David’s case found the cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia and found prison officials who restrained him shortly before he died were not motivated by malicious intent.
So David’s death wasn’t malicious and no one was charged with a crime.
The coroner described systemic failures and the need for education of officers.
So if his death wasn’t to be blamed on individuals but the system, I humbly suggest that racism is to blame. Our collective racism that we live with a system that does what it did to David and we see this as part of life.
When George Floyd died, the whole world paid attention. But when David Dungay died very few noticed. That seems unfair.
But hopefully, because of George’s death we, particularly Australians, will now notice David’s and notice that we have a system that allowed it.
To see the footage of the events leading to David Dungay’s death, go to:
To read the coroner’s report on David Dungay’s death, go to:
To hear Indigenous woman Linda Burney, also Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, commenting on Australian black deaths in custody, go to:
For access to US reportage on black deaths, go via this Good Grief! link: