Text size Follow us on Twitter Find us on Facebook

‘I can’t breathe!’ Australia must look in the mirror to see our own deaths in custody

Thalia Anthony writes in The Conversation (2.6.20) that, as people across the United States continue to protest the death of African-American George Floyd, many Australians choose not to look at the hundreds of Indigenous deaths in custody here.

'“I can’t breathe, please! Let me up, please! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”

'These words are not the words of George Floyd or Eric Garner. They weren’t uttered on the streets of Minneapolis or New York. These are the final words of a 26-year-old Dunghutti man who died in a prison in south-eastern Sydney.

'David Dungay Jr was killed when prison officers restrained him, including with handcuffs, and pushed him face down on his bed and on the floor. One officer pushed a knee into his back. All along, Dungay was screaming that he could not breathe and could be heard gasping for air.

'Dungay’s death in custody occurred in Long Bay prison during the 2015 Christmas season. It happened a short drive from an elite university, next to affluent, waterside suburbs.

'But his horrific death did little to pierce this white bubble of privilege. The media barely blinked. The politicians did not emerge from their holiday retreats. None of the officers involved were disciplined or called to account.

'It is comfortable for us in Australia to throw stones at racist police violence in the United States. It is comfortable because we do not see our own glass house.'

 

Next

 

© 2020 The T J Ryan Foundation


TJ RYAN FOUNDATION LIMITED ACN: 165152625 ABN: 78 165 152 625 info@tjryanfoundation.org.au
Registered office: SOUTH BRISBANE QLD 4101 Regulator: Australian Securities & Investments Commission