Nationwide Vigils After White Man Bludgeons First Nations Youth to Death

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First Nations death

A group of white men in a ute pulled up beside some teens walking home from school in the Perth suburb of Middle Swan on 13 October, and 21-year-old Jack Brearley jumped out and bashed 15-year-old Noongar boy Cassius Turvey to death, although machines kept him alive until Sunday.

Perhaps the word “allegedly” should have appeared in the last paragraph, but the white killer has been charged with murder.

Of course, in the case of an Indigenous killing in Australia, this could easily be downgraded to manslaughter, or it could be found that Brearley happened to slip whilst holding a metal bar.

Colonial institution, the WA police, said it is investigating alleged racist slurs made at the scene – whatever that means. 

And it’s also looking into whether it was a case of mistaken identity, meaning Brearley wanted to bash another Aboriginal kid to death but grabbed the first one around.

Not much has been said about the incident in the mainstream media, especially when compared to the outpouring that would be forthcoming if a white school kid was bashed to death by a perpetrator holding a piece of metal on the roadside.

Indeed, the collective desensitisation amongst the Australian settler colonial community towards the ongoing brutalisation of First Nations peoples is so deep that it means when a white person’s attention is thoroughly drawn to such an atrocity the usual refrain is, “Oh, that’s like in America.”

First Nations death Cassius Turvey

Suppressing the truth

The WA police commissioner is doubling down on trying to bury the racial motivation behind the attack.

But there’s a hell of a long history of racially motivated crimes against First Nations people that Col Blanch is trying to overlook in doing so, although he does have the entire Australian criminal justice system at his back.

Blanch said, he believes “Cassius was an innocent victim of a violent attack.” However, it’s hard to find a guilty victim of a roadside bludgeoning with a piece of metal at the best of times.

“We’re not operating on any principles of racism or motivation at this point,” the police commissioner added, because obviously there’s no history of white people killing black kids in WA with racial prejudice underlying the act.

Except for the time a 56-year-old white man driving a ute ran down 14-year-old Aboriginal boy Elijah Doughty, who was driving a motorcycle, and killed him. The man, who owned the bike, had it stolen the day prior, however there’s no evidence the teen was the thief but there is some to the contrary.

This August 2016 killing resulted in the white man, whose name continues to be supressed, being cleared of manslaughter, but found guilty of dangerous driving causing death. And he was released on parole 19 months later.

Vigils for Justice

Cassius’ mother Mechelle Turvey told NITV that she’s heartbroken by the loss of her son, who was in year nine at high school, and, by all accounts, a young upstanding member of the community.

First Nations rights groups are holding vigils next week right across the continent from Perth to Geraldton to Adelaide to Canberra, Melbourne and Mount Druitt.

The Sydney Justice for Cassius Turvey: Solidarity Vigil on Gadigal Land will be held at 6 pm on Wednesday 2 November at Sydney Town Hall. The event is being hosted by FISTT and Justice for David Dungay Junior.

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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