Lawyer and Poet, Stewart Levitt speaks to Aboriginal Deaths in Custody  

[by Beccy Cambridge]

Stewart Levitt (pictured) with the family of the NT man Patrick Cumaiyi who he is representing in a police violence case. Image: ABC

Black lives do matter in Australia, too and they have mattered since long before George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police.

 

Until last week, the average turnout to protest an Aboriginal death in custody was between one hundred (100) and two hundred (200), comprised seventy-five percent (75%) of Indigenous Australians, twenty percent (20%) of Spartacists and with the remaining five percent (5%) being liberal academics and lawyers.

 

The tens of thousands gathered on the streets of Australia’s cities was yet another “#MeToo mobilisation”.

 

It is to be hoped this movement lasts because the over-representation of Aboriginal Australians in custody is worse even than for African-Americans in the US.

 

Youth suicides, nationwide neglect by Community Services, poor access to jobs and to health services, is endemic here.

For all of the discrimination and injustice directed their way, African-Americans have had “rights-on-paper” and been effectively “emancipated” for over one hundred (100) years longer than Aboriginal Australians have even been counted as Australian citizens (just since 1967).

 

Not only have Indigenous Australians been abused by Police but when crimes are committed against them by non-Aborigines, the perpetrators are unlucky to suffer even a rap over the knuckles.

 

Australian governments have been able to make “special laws” to deal with Aborigines, which can deny them equal rights with other Australians, even as recently as 2006 – and since.

 

Deaths in custody have continued, under-investigated and unpunished since Captain Cook’s landing.

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