• Hank Newsome and Leetona Dungay with protesters outside Downing Centre court in Sydney. (SBS)Source: SBS
Hank Newsome says the death of Aboriginal man David Dungay has 'eerie' similarities to a key case in the United States Black Lives Matter movement.
NITV Staff Writer

16 Jul 2018 - 5:08 PM  UPDATED 16 Jul 2018 - 5:19 PM

As a coronial inquest into David Dungay’s death began this week in Sydney, Hank Newsome stood side-by-side with the Dunghutti man's family and their supporters.

The president of Black Lives Matter, Greater New York participated in a traditional smoking ceremony, shared a moment’s silence and then spoke to the media outside Downing Centre court.

Mr Newsome, who has been visiting Sydney with his Australian wife, sees similarities with the experiences of Indigenous Australia and black America.

“It’s the same story, different soil,” he told reporters.

“It’s the same thing from Long Bay to the USA. In Sydney, his name is David Dungay. In New York City, his name would be Eric Garner.”

Eric Garner was killed in 2014 after being held in a chokehold by a police officer in New York.  

His final words – “I can’t breathe” – became a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter.

The protest movement has grown with each controversial police killing.

Mr Dungay died at Long Bay jail after being restrained by prison officers and administered anti-psychotic medication.

He could be heard screaming repeatedly: “I can’t breathe.” Moments later he was dead.

'I want justice for my son': David Dungay death in custody inquest begins
David Dungay died in Long Bay jail's hospital in December 2015, and his relatives had been hoping to receive government funding to help attend the inquest.

“Eric Garner called for his life 11 times. David Dungay called for his life 12 times. These eerie similarities cannot go ignored.”

Video played in court showed Dungay being restrained, his neck pressed on the edge of the bed frame.

His mother, Leetona Dungay, said that she found it distressing to watch the video.

“It’s a terrible way to get justice that you’ve got to watch the way your son’s gonna die,” she said outside court on Monday.

“These people that were there on the day of my son’s death...  I would like them to be accountable and I would like them all to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.”

For Mr Newsome, the situation was all too familiar.

“It’s all the same. It’s black faces, it’s black death, it’s black tears and it’s the same excuses coming from those blue uniforms," he said.

"If you stand for justice and you looked at that tape like I just looked at and you would’ve saw a man saying ‘I can’t breathe’."

"You would’ve saw him laying on a bed with his legs twisted behind him, with officers with their knees on his back while he says ‘I can’t breathe’.

"What human being deserves to get treated like that?”