This Evening in Castlemaine meet at the Market Building Steps at 6pm to remember John Pat and the many others who have died in police or prison custody. We will be reading Elder Jack Davis’ poem for John Pat – copies will be available; signing cards of sorrow and solidarity for the mothers and families of some of those who have died in custody, calling on the governments to stop this racist violence, light candles in remembrance and state our commitment – borrowing from a Sweet Honey in the Rock song – sing / chant together ‘we who believe in freedom cannot rest. Til the killing of a black wo/man black mothers son/daughter is a…s important as the killing of a white wo/man white woman’s son/daughter. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes ….” I hope to see you there. Janet Galbraith
Indigenous Social Justice Association – Melbourne (ISJA Melbourne) Via The Deaths In Custody Watch Committee WA Inc
Tomorrow is the day we call on you to join with us in remembering John Pat and all those who have died in police or prison custody in the past 30 years. Help us to send a clear message to the State Parliament of WA. NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION / STOP DEATHS IN CUSTODY
In the 30 years since the death of John Pat, there has been no official apology to his family or a memorial headstone placed in Roebourne.
John Pat was just 16-years-old when he died in custody on 28 September 1983 at Roebourne police station. When he saw his friend, Ashley James, assaulted and racially abused by off-duty police officers outside a Hotel, he intervened.
Witnesses saw a police officer strike John Pat in the face and shove him backwards. He fell and struck his head on the pavement. While lying defenceless on the ground another came over and kicked him in the head. Witnesses saw John Pat kicked in the face by another officer before being thrown into the van.
The subsequent autopsy showed injuries consistent with sustained multiple massive blows to the head. In May, 1986, an all-white jury found the four police officers and a police aide not guilty of manslaughter.
John Pats death, the acquittal of police, and epidemic of deaths in custody sparked a massive campaign in the 1980s. This huge campaign simply could not be ignored.
From 1980 to 1989 the Hawke government established the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It made 339 recommendations for reform. Unfortunately, many remain unimplemented or abandoned.
Two decades after the Royal Commission’s report, a major review of deaths in custody has found a substantial increase in the number of Aboriginal people dying in custody over the last five years in line with an almost doubling of the number of Aboriginal people being locked up.
A rally to remember John Pat and to say STOP DEATHS IN CUSTODY will be held in Melbourne on Saturday 28th September – tomorrow – at 12 noon. Meet at the State Library.