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Aussie bigotry and hypocrisy exposed again!

Posted by te2ataria on June 2, 2020

Sent by a reader in Sydney

‘Australia had its own George Floyd moment, only it passed without international outrage’

By ABC Indigenous affairs correspondent Isabella Higgins

“The deep anguish felt after the death of George Floyd is something Indigenous communities understand all too well, except here [in Australia,] they are still waiting for their moment of international reckoning.”

The deep anguish felt after the death of George Floyd is something Indigenous communities understand all too well, except here, they are still waiting for their moment of international reckoning.

The response in the United States to the death has been enormous, thousands taking to the streets to protest against the death of black men in the custody of white police officers.

But it was even bigger than that, the social media outcry has been impossible to ignore, George Floyd’s death was noted by millions around the world.

For many it feels like a moment of awakening, of a struggle realised, but it’s a bittersweet scenario for Indigenous families where similar issues are at play but with none of the global attention.

It’s been more than 30 years since Australia started interrogating its own problem with Indigenous deaths in custody, but it’s an issue that often fails to command social or political attention.

Many of the recommendations from the 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were never implemented, and it’s estimated hundreds more have died in custody since.

As Australians took to social media to denounce the events occurring in America, many Indigenous communities were left wondering where is the outcry for my family?

So does Australia have less empathy for its own deaths in custody? Or is the American influence so great that as a country we understand their race struggles better than our own?

The power of numbers

I’ve reported on many protests against Indigenous deaths in custody in Australia. The smallest was just a few dozen people, the biggest probably at best, a few hundred.

Never have I seen anything like what’s happening in the United States right now.
Thousands of people are shown with their fists in the air as they face the opposite direction to the camera.

Australia’s relatively small population is part of the reason — America’s African American population is equivalent to about 43 million people, Australia’s Indigenous population just 800,000 — but it’s a deeper problem than that.

In some ways Australia’s criminalisation of its black citizens is even more pronounced than the United States, but we don’t have music, movies and TV shows explaining it to us as regularly.

In the US, African Americans make up about 14 per cent of the population, and roughly 30 per cent of the country’s inmates.

Indigenous Australians make up 3 per cent of the population and about 30 per cent of the prison population.

We lock up Indigenous Australians at four times the rate of black Americans. It’s an even more jarring figure in the youth detention system, where about 50 per cent of all detainees are Indigenous.

It’s a crude and imperfect comparison, but it still paints a picture of our justice system.

“I can’t breathe”

One Australian case in particular that bears similarities to that of George Floyd is the 2015 death of Dunghutti man David Dungay in a Sydney prison.  [Dunngay, 26, who died in 2015 at Long Bay Jail.]

Both men died while being physically restrained by officers, and after repeatedly exclaiming “I can’t breathe.”

I remember a protest held by David Dungay’s family in Sydney. There were about 50 people there, and it received next to no media attention that day.

Not long after tens of thousands showed up to rally against Australia Day and climate change just a few blocks away.

No one has ever been charged for Dungay’s death.

The largest protest I’ve seen in Australia around deaths in custody was last year in Alice Springs, where the community was mourning the loss of a young man.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Protest march in Alice Springs

Kumanjayi Walker, a 19-year-old Walpiri man, had been allegedly shot and killed by a white police officer in his home in the remote community of Yuendumu, home to just 1000 people.

Hundreds travelled hours away from their home in the heart of Australia to sit in the Alice Springs town square and call for justice.

There is the added complexity that in Indigenous communities like this one, English isn’t a first language and there’s added cultural protocols about who can speak out on behalf of their people.

I remember a young mother at the protest rocking a baby on her hip, she told me her biggest fear was that her baby son could one day end up as a man with bullet wounds in a coffin.

The police officer was charged with murder. It’s yet to go to trial but it’ll be one of the few cases where charges were pressed in relation to deaths in custody in Australia.

After the arrest, there were just a few small vigils mourning a young man.
3000 people attended the Invasion Day march in Brisbane on Australia Day 2018, waving Indigenous flags and signs.

America is the land of celebrity, a pop-culture powerhouse of the world, and while perhaps not equitably, African Americans do have some access to that international megaphone.

Barack Obama, Beyonce, Michael Jordan, Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey. Those kinds of aspirational household names taught the world African Americans should be respected.

For decades now, rap and hip-hop music have explained to us just some of the challenges of being black in America, with complex ideas about white privilege, power imbalances, inequity, a stacked justice system, all distilled in a catchy chorus.

From Tupac — “Can barely walk the city streets … without a cop harassing me, searching me”— to Kendrick Lamar — “We hate the po-po, wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho”.

Australia has a crop of Indigenous celebrities, sports stars, musicians, actors, writers, a handful of politicians but nothing compared to America’s influencers.

In a connected world, where activism and conversations start on social media, whether right or wrong, the words of the famous can be as good as gospel.

They speak in a language people understand, they have influence and they told us the death of George Floyd is not OK and you must speak up. And Australians did.

Out of sight

In Australia these incidents often occur in remote corners of the country, foreign to most of us, while most African-Americans police shootings occur in big cities.

Would the nation’s understanding about what happened during the 2004 Palm Island riots be any clearer if it happened in a major city?

An Aboriginal man died in custody, it sparked fierce riots, the officer in charge was acquitted of manslaughter, then 12 years later in a civil case, the Federal Court determined the police actions were racist.

Where there are lots of people, there is a media presence, then there is public scrutiny, that leads to accountability. When terrible things happen in remote areas, they too easily slip under the radar.

As a regional reporter, some years ago I recall a riot breaking out in Woorabinda, a small central Queensland community.

A pregnant Indigenous woman had accused police of throwing her to the ground and mishandling her during a routine seatbelt check.

The town of about 900 people was furious at the police, they rioted for days, there were a few local reports after the fact, but for the most part the incident barely made it to public consciousness.

The incident was investigated by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission, but there was no follow up on the outcome.

If issues happen out of the sight of most Australians, out of sight of our social media feeds, it is easy to ignore them.

But America can tell you it’ll take more than social media activism, memes about racism and protests to dismantle institutional racism.

America might have worldwide attention, all the power and influence of celebrity, and even a black president for eight years, but just like Australia, its justice problems are not going away.


© 2020 ABC [Non-commercial, educational use only. ]

11 Responses to “Aussie bigotry and hypocrisy exposed again!”

  1. Carter said

    Demonstrators attack the CNN HQ in Atlanta.
    About one in every eight Americans is black, yet only a handful of African Americans are employed by the Jewish Views Network. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the staff are Israeli-trained European Jews.


    Fire and Fury: Crowd Attacks CNN Center in Atlanta


    Protestors damaged windows outside CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta on Friday and spray painted a company sign.

    Atlanta was one of many U.S. cities where large protests have broken out over the killing of George Floyd. A large group of protestors formed in downtown Atlanta, with a significant number of law enforcement officers sent to the area.

    Some of those protestors targeted CNN’s nearby building, breaking windows and defacing the large CNN sign outside the building. A small group of police officers entered the buildings to ensure protestors did remained on the outside.

  2. Jon said

    The face of Antichrist:

    They said the devil’s man on earth was smart. So why did he choose the retard turd?

    • Kelly said

      Don’t knock him!
      The Antichrist is the best thing that could’ve happened to a violent, out of control and truly evil country.

    • Jo said

      Trump presidency has revealed the depth and extent of moral decay and social corruption within the Five Eyes (US, UK, Australia, Canada and NZ), including the political and economic institutions, police and judiciary, academia and religion, folklore and media, government and military…

    • Collen said

      Trust in God! He instructed Satan to descend to earth and slaughter the evildoers and destroy their dwellings.
      Donald Trump is the reflection of Satan in the US, the most evil country in the world.

    • MediaSearch said

      Can We Call Trump a Killer?
      There is no way to remove his culpability in the neglectful handling of the coronavirus.
      The coronavirus pandemic is still raging in this country. In fact, in more than 20 states, the number of cases is rising. More than 125,000 Americans have died from the virus. This country has a quarter of all the cases in the world even though it makes up only 4 percent of the world population.

      • May said

        Donald Trump is a biblical act — he’s a one-man plague of locust. He’s an equalizer sent to destroy the American house of cards, and make the fat, morons suffer. We need four more years of Trump presidency, or better still, have him as ruler of the free world for life!

  3. Racism Is Us! said

    Racism in Aboriginal Australia

    Scratch an Australian to find a racist. It’s easy to use racist terms without meaning to. Racism exists at all levels of Australian society but Australians are in denial.

    “You don’t have to scratch the surface too hard in this country to find an awful underbelly of racism.”
    — Linda Burney, NSW Deputy Opposition Leader

    “Racism is still alive and evil in this country, I can assure you.” — Colin Markham, former NSW parliamentary secretary for Indigenous affairs

    Source: Racism in Aboriginal Australia – Creative Spirits

  4. Chris said

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples have only lived in Australia for 65,000+ years. How dare they?

    Indigenous Australians [wikipedia]

    Indigenous peoples of Australia, comprising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, have lived in Australia for at least 65,000+ years before the arrival of British settlers in 1788. The colonisation of Australia and development into a modern nation, saw explicit and implicit racial discrimination against Indigenous Australians.

    Indigenous Australians continue to be subjected to racist government policy and community attitudes. Racist community attitudes towards Aboriginal people have been confirmed as continuing both by surveys of Indigenous Australians[8] and self-disclosure of racist attitudes by non-Indigenous Australians.

    Since 2007, government policy considered to be racist include the Northern Territory Intervention which failed to produce a single child abuse conviction, cashless welfare cards trialled almost exclusively in Aboriginal communities,] the Community Development Program that has seen Indigenous participants fined at a substantially higher rate than non-Indigenous participants in equivalent work-for-the-dole schemes, and calls to shut down remote Indigenous communities despite the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples specifying governments must facilitate the rights of Indigenous people to live on traditional land.

    In 2016, police raids and behaviour on Palm Island following a death in custody were found to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, with a record class action settlement of $30 million awarded to victims in May 2018. The raids were found by the court to be “racist” and “unnecessary, disproportionate” with police having “acted in these ways because they were dealing with an Aboriginal community.”

  5. Ron said


  6. SB said

    It’s black and white: racism in Australia is common and accepted
    My story of racism and discrimination in Australia
    Here’s what you told us about racism in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic

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