• Hundreds of people marched through Sydney's CBD on Wednesday demanding justice for Indigenous people who have died in custody. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Representatives from more than a dozen families who are still demanding answers about lost loved ones were joined by hundreds of people in a march for justice.
Brooke Fryer

21 Aug 2019 - 5:52 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2019 - 5:52 PM

Hundreds of demonstrators marched through Sydney's CBD on Wednesday demanding justice for Indigenous men, women and children who have died in custody or are victims in unsolved murders.

Walking from Town Hall to Parliament House, protestors chanted, 'they say accident; we say murder’ and carried placards that read, ‘Black Lives Matter’.

Leading the group were 13 families who have never received justice or answers for the death of their loved ones.

The lead group included relatives of 16-year-old Lewis ‘Buddy’ Kelly whose body was found in 1984 on train tracks in South Kempsey after he was last seen walking up the steps of a railway bridge

Investigations concluded his death was a suicide, but his family maintain the 16-year-old was murdered.

Monica Kelly, the sister of Buddy, said she and her three sisters were at the rally to unite alongside other families as one voice.

“It’s been a long haul for a lot of us. When we are fighting individually on our own we are not getting heard,” she told NITV News.

“So, the single reason why we have joined forces with the other 13 families today is to have a strong powerful voice and to come together and to continue fighting for justice.”

Cousin of Colleen Craig-Walker, Gavin Stanbrook, headed the pack on a microphone chanting, “Who’s lives matter?” The mass crowd responded, “Black Lives Matter”.

Ms Craig-Walker, 16, was one of the three victims – including four-year-old Evelyn Greenup and 16-year-old Clinton Speedy-Duroux - of the Bowraville murders that occurred between 1990 and 1991.

Despite two trials and heavy publicity surrounding the murders, nobody has ever been convicted.

Walking in solidarity with the families were close allies and supporters.

“How could you not be outraged… we’re looking at a history of Indigenous activism in this country, land right struggles… it’s vitally important that we have anyone we can get to come and stand in solidarity with Indigenous people,” said socialist student Jacqueline Blackburn.

The family of David Dungay were also in attendance, holding a poster of their son's face that contained his dying words: “I can’t breathe”.

Mr Dungay, 26, died in 2015 while in custody. He died in Sydney’s Long Bay Prison Hospital after being forcibly removed to an observation cell.

Footage revealed in court during an initial hearing showed Mr Dungay gasping for air and repeating, “I can’t breathe” a dozen times.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Indigenous people in adult prisons made up 28 per cent of the prison population, increasing by 2 per cent since 30 June 2017.

The non-Indigenous rate also increased by the same amount during the same period.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), on an average night in the June quarter of 2018 there were 980 young people in youth detention. 90 per cent of these people were male and around 84 per cent were between the ages of 10 to 17.

Despite Indigenous young people only making up 5 per cent of the general population under the age of 17, they accounted for 59 per cent of the youth detention population across the country.

Since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody 28 years ago made 339 recommendations, there has been around 410 further deaths in custody. 

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