Australia: Death of Aboriginal teenager sparks nationwide rallies and vigils


Thousands of people in Australia held nationwide rallies and angry protests on Wednesday over the death of an Aboriginal teenager who was attacked by a white man on his way home from school.

At least 38 rallies were held in cities and towns across Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, reported 9News.

“All the brothers and sisters have come out in solidarity, love, respect… non-Indigenous brothers and sisters have reached out [to organise rallies],” event organiser Megan Krakouer was quoted as saying by ABC News.

Cassius Turvey, 15, was allegedly beaten with a metal pole when he was walking home from his school in the northeastern Perth suburb on 13 October. He died from his injuries 10 days later.

Police charged a 21-year-old white man with murder over the incident and he will appear in court next month.

The teen’s mother, Mechelle Turvey, spoke to the crowd on Wednesday. “My boy talks to me every day through my heart,” she said.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese had described the attack on Cassius as “racially motivated”. Last week, he said Cassius’s death was a “terrible tragedy”.

“This attack, that clearly is racially motivated, just breaks your heart,” he told reporters.

“We all are sharing the grief, and we all are healing together,” said the teenager’s mother, Ms. Turvey about the rallies.

A 53-year-old woman at a rally in Sydney told AFP: “I’m here because the targeted racist, fatal violence against First Nations people in their own country has been going on for 250 years. And that’s 250 years too long.”

Another woman at the Perth rally, Melissa Ryder, told local media: “Kids matter. Stand up, and say ‘it’s not okay’. Kids matter.”

Throughout the rallies, there were calls for “justice for Cassius” and the sound of the traditional didgeridoo could be heard at several places.

The prime minister also paid tribute to Cassius. He said the teen’s life was “over all too soon”.

“And for Cassius’s mum, for people who knew this young man, you look at his smile and you think that is a life that should have been just beginning and it was over all too soon,” he added.

Protesters held candles and some wrapped themselves in the Aboriginal flag. Others held placards that read “Rest In Peace Cassius”.

An Aboriginal woman, Lynda-June Coe, told the crowd in front of the Sydney Town Hall that Cassius represented “every single son, every brother, right across this vast continent”.

“We will never forget him. To our allies, you gotta stand up … you gotta stand up. Fly high with the ancestors, Cassius,” she added.

Crowds of mourners in Perth also performed a powerful haka, or performance art, during the candlelight vigil for Cassius.

Earlier, Western Australian police commissioner Col Blanch had said the murder of the Aboriginal teenager might have been a “case of mistaken identity” in comments that led to massive backlash from indigenous leaders.

“Cassius was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was in his school uniform with his friends in broad daylight,” the leaders wrote in a letter to Mr Blanch.

Josie Crowshaw, the organiser of the rally in Darwin where around 300 people attended a vigil for Cassius, said: “The pain is unbelievable, and I hope people will show solidarity.” (Source: Independent UK)