A police officer has been injured and windows smashed in the Australian town of Kalgoorlie Tuesday, during a protest over the death of a 14-year-old Indigenous boy Elijah Doughty.
A 55-year-old man was due to appear in court on manslaughter charges over the boy’s death. However, some local people believe the death was suspicious, claiming multiple death threats have been made towards Aboriginal kids in the town via Facebook.
Reports says a police officer has been hit in the head with a bottle outside the courthouse and Kalgoorlie’s main street has been shut down, with dogs and riot police on the scene earlier Tuesday.
ABC‘s John Wibberley says multiple locals have been arrested and “the mantra or cry coming from people here is ‘justice’ and ‘we want justice now.'” Reinforcements were also reportedly called by police, as protesters tried to enter the courtroom.
“They’ve just forced their way actually through courthouse security and there is an enormous police presence here now, and again, very unsettling, very upset and angry people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal,” he said.
The man on trial was driving crashed into the 14-year-old boy while driving a truck. The boy was driving a stolen motorbike at the time, and police say the truck is linked to the owner of the motorcycle.
A closed Facebook group is allegedly at the centre of a series of death threats levelled at the Indigenous community of Kalgoorlie recently, and residents of the area are deeply concerned they’re being targeted by hate groups.
Two young Aboriginal boys from Kalgoorlie have been hospitalised recently according to a local source, and now, a third has died. Locals are demanding police take action to investigate the validity of claims the incidents are race-based.
A spokesperson for the longstanding protest group, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy said on Facebook, “With the influx of crime on the street the Mayor has not responded in offering drop in centres for kids to play pool, play Xbox games or even have access to trained youth workers. The response has been nothing but sitting back and letting crimes escalate with ongoing encouragement for punishment to be dished out not according to judicial law procedures but at people’s own discretion.
“The target for punishment is back kids. The blame for crimes is black kids. The problems in society are blamed on black kids.”
Local authorities have issued a statement saying the trial has been postponed and an inquiry into the disturbance will be held.
Earlier this year, the mayor of Kalgoorlie made headlines by calling for a return to corporeal punishment for juvenile offenders, and pledged to pursue the cause with the Western Australia government.
Tributes are being shared on Facebook for the 14-year-old boy.