Two Indigenous Teenagers Died This Week After Jumping Into Swan River To Avoid A Police Chase
"This is nothing short of a tragedy."
In devastating news out of Western Australia, two Indigenous teenagers have drowned in Perth’s Swan River after being chased by police.
The two teens were part of a group of five who jumped into the river on Monday afternoon to avoid police, who were chasing them on foot after reports of teens jumping fences in the area. The body of one boy was recovered from the river on Monday evening, and a second boy was found dead on Tuesday morning. The other three teens have been confirmed safe.
“Two boys are believed to have got into difficulties in the middle of the river and succumbed to the conditions and were not seen to resurface,” WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said on Tuesday. “This is nothing short of a tragedy.” He also stressed that the surviving boys have not been charged with any offences, and that “any matters concerning offending need to be put squarely to one side”.
Due to the police chase, the boys’ deaths are being treated as deaths in custody, and there will be a coroner’s inquest into the details.
Indigenous youth are pursued into rivers for 'jumping fences'. Pursued on bikes until their bodies are on fences. Pursued on bikes until they're under cars. There is no way to be Indigenous in this country without being chased.
— Alison Whittaker (@AJ_Whittaker) September 11, 2018
Can be people use their anger about the racist Serena cartoon to get angry about this?
Two Black boys chased by police for “jumping fences” into a river where they were allowed to drown?
This is the life or death consequences of racism. Show the world their lives mattered. https://t.co/0mBe2Rezsd
— Nakkiah Lui (@nakkiahlui) September 11, 2018
The two dead boys are being mourned by their family, friends and local community, who have expressed shock and sadness over the news of their deaths. “These young boys made a mistake and they paid for it with their lives,” the grandfather of one of the boys told NITV today.
“He was a beautiful young man,” he told WA Today. “I would love the wider community to respect that this was just a mistake.”
— Rangi Hirini (@rangihirini) September 11, 2018
“I’m terribly saddened and horrified,” WA Aboriginal Legal Service CEO Dennis Eggington told the ABC yesterday. “Those who know our community will know that a vast majority of the Noongar community today will be in mourning. Lots and lots of our families affected.”
“Those young boys would have been absolutely in terror, running, frightened, and hitting the river and being in more trouble and more frightened. I couldn’t think of anything worse.”
Eggington said he hoped the surviving boys would be provided with the support they need and that the deaths would be taken seriously and investigated as deaths in custody. The National Indigenous Critical Response Service is supporting the families of the boys who died.