WA Police have responded to reports of the highly-offensive posters plastered over the home of the Aboriginal owners of Pinjin Station, located about 140 kilometres from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.
Last week, Mr Thomas felt threatened after waking up to find a series of signs with death threats and racially abusive language, left by an unknown person (or persons).
Leo and Lawrence Thomas, who work on Pinjin Station, allege their neighbouring mining company, operated by Melbourne-based Hawthorn Resources, may be behind the posters. Although Mr Thomas has no proof that the posters come from the mining company, his suspicions are based on the fact that some posters do mention the Minister for Mining and the mining operations and on his past experiences with the company.
Hawthorn Resources has confirmed "a number of threatening and highly offensive signs have been placed on Crown Land immediately adjacent to its mining lease" and said in a statement on Wednesday it had no further comment on the matter, given it had been reported to the police.
Speaking to NITV News today, Leo Thomas says he is overwhelmed by the support he’s received after NITV News reported on the story.
“[The article] settled me down a bit,” he said.
“But I’m still disappointed and distressed."
Mr Thomas says he has not yet filed a report with the police over the death threats but a police aid had called the station to check on them regardless.
The station owner said he is looking at filing an official complaint once he gets all the evidence together, as he wants to ensure this matter is dealt with.
NITV News reached out the WA Police who say an Aboriginal Police Liaison Officer was at the scene as they removed the signs.
“Leonora Police are conducting inquiries and will be seizing the posters for forensic testing today. Inquiries are being conducted with the local Pinjin Community and the Hawthorn mine site but at this stage, there have been no suspects identified,” they said in a statement.
"They have been speaking to and consulting with, the Pinjin Community."
Police say if anyone is to receive any death threats or racial abuse, they should call the police immediately.
Honourable Robin Scott MLC, Member for Mining and Pastoral, has been a key advocate for the station owners, labelling the attack on Wongutha Elder Leo Thomas and his nephew, Lawrence Thomas “absolutely disgusting”.
“I cannot believe that somebody would do what they’ve done there,” he told NITV News.
“It’s not only intimidating but its also threatening the people there, its actually threatening them.”
Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane says police should investigate the matter and possibly lay charges if any criminal behaviour has occurred.
"This must be a very distressing experience for Mr Thomas and his family. It is important that people are able to hold racist abuse and intimidation to account ... There must be no licence or impunity for any racist abuse and intimidation," he told NITV News.
Matter raised in WA Parliament
Last night, Mr Scott brought the matter to the West Australian parliament.
Mr Scott read out a letter from the Aboriginal Elder to the Parliament, regarding the racial abuse and death threats.
Mr Thomas said in his letter that he wanted the Parliament to know he fears for his family, and can no longer bring them out to the station.
“This is the worst type of racism that I have ever experienced in my lifetime," Mr Thomas said in the letter.
Mr Scott raised Mr Thomas's claims that the abuse of the workers and owners of Pinjin Station has been occurring for quite some time.
“This has been going on for over a year; they’ve been threatening them, it's just been verbal threats, it's just been a disgusting situation right from day one,” he said.
“The station owners have been verbally threatened, they’ve been abused, they’ve been treated like animals.”
NITV News contacted Hawthorn Resources for additional comment but did not receive a response.