Culture

Families Of 15 Indigenous People Who Died In Custody Demand To Talk To ScoMo

They say the lack of action from the government, 30 years on from the Royal Commission, can no longer be ignored.

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Fifteen Indigenous families who have lost loved ones in the care of police or the corrections system have joined together to demand that Prime Minister Scott Morrison meet with them on the anniversary of the Royal Commission into deaths in custody.

The families say it’s time the government sat down and had an honest conversation with them about why Blak people continue to die in police custody, and explain why a government inquiry didn’t prevent a further 441 deaths.

Aunty Sherry Fisher-Tilberoo died in September in Queensland Police custody, and her nephew Troy Brady said it was past time the prime minister talked face-to-face with Indigenous families who have lost someone in racist institutions.

“Brother, we’re not delivering a box of chocolates to Canberra, that’s not our intent,” said Brady. “He can not help but sit there and have a talk with us. He has a responsibility to listen to us first and foremost with empathy and compassion.

“If he doesn’t, we’ll have a problem. We’re going to be there for business.”

The families of Cherdeena Wynne, Christopher Drage, David Dungay Jnr, Gareth Jackson Roe, Joyce Gladis Clarke, Ms Dhu, Nathan Reynolds, Raymond Noel Thomas, Stanley Inman, Tane Chatfield, Aunty Tanya Day, Trisjack Simpson, Aunty Sherry Fisher-Tilberoo, Warren John Cooper, and Wayne Fella Morrison have launched a petition to call for support for their meeting with the prime minister by April 2021.

They’ve also been featured in a Rolling Stone Black Lives Matter spread.

“Australia’s governmental system has failed its people and had a negligible overall effect on reducing Indigenous deaths in custody since the Royal Commission was launched in 1991,” said Rolling Stone‘s Managing Editor ​Poppy Reid. “Rolling Stone Australia stands with the 15 families seeking justice today and supports their call for a consultation with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April.”

Brady said the sheer scale of the issue and the historical injustice of the genocide of Indigenous Australians meant a conversation was the least the Scott Morrison could offer.

“441 Black deaths — that’s a lot of people since 1991,” he said. “The policies and procedures need to be revisited.

“It’s long overdue and for true justice for all of our peoples who have lost their lives in this nefarious system.

“Not just since the Royal Commission but the thousands and thousands of lives lost since the illegal colony was set up in the 1700s.”

The petition can be signed here.

Image courtesy of Rolling Stone Australia.