WA’s Police Commissioner has urged people not to assume the violent attack which took 15-year-old Indigenous teenager Cassius Turvey‘s life was racially motivated. Let’s break down why this issue is not that simple.
Cassius, a year 9 student, was walking home from school with his friends on October 13 when a black Ford Ranger pulled up next to them.
According to police, Jack Steven James Brearley, 21, was a passenger in the vehicle. He accused Cassius of smashing car windows in the neighbourhood before he allegedly bashed the Noongar schoolboy with a metal pole. Cassius died in hospital five days later.
Brearley has been charged with murder and will appear in Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court on November 9. He is white.
“We’re not operating on any principles of racism or motivation at this point,” WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch told Perth radio station 6PR on Wednesday.
“It may be a case of mistaken identity, it may be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“But, I wouldn’t want anyone in the community to jump to any conclusions at this time, we’re still very early in the investigation.”
“At this stage it appears Cassius was an innocent victim of a violent attack,” Commissioner Blanch alleged.
“I urge community members to refrain from unfounded speculation regarding this tragic death of a young boy, who was a much loved family member and friend.”
Except discussions around the alleged racial nature of this crime aren’t “unfounded”.
Police are investigating allegations of “racial slurs” being used against Cassius during the attack that led to his death.
The death of a Blak boy accused of property damage by a white man will always be political, even if the accused didn’t yell out slurs like police claim in this case. Why? Because it keeps fkn happening.
Elijah Doughty was killed at 14 years old after a white man accused him of stealing a bike, chased him in a ute and ran him over in 2016.
Two Indigenous teenage boys, aged 16 and 17 and only identified as Master Drage and Master Simpson, drowned after police chased them into a lake in 2018. They were accused of jumping fences into private property.
Commissioner Blanch’s suggestions that Cassius could have been “in the wrong place at the wrong time”, or that he could have simply been attacked because of a case of “mistaken identity”, don’t account for the fact that none of these circumstances mean the case would then lose its racial elements.
This country is built on the murder of First Nations people. Any deaths at the hands of white men can’t exist without racial politics.
Some folk online have labelled Cassius’ death as a “lynching” that sought to punish a random Indigenous child for a crime he was innocent of.
Others have compared his death to that of George Floyd in 2020, whose murder resulted in a wave of protests world-wife after he was killed by police.
You all better keep that same energy. Keep that same outrage. Call it for what it is, a lynching. Cassius Turvey should still be here, his family should not be burying their son. In case you forgot, Black lives matter on this continent too 2/2
— Wendy Mocke (@WendyMocke) October 26, 2022
Blak deaths in custody are an epidemic in this country. Blak youth are detained at grossly high rates. Blak women are eight times more likely to be murdered than non-Blak women. The racial politics of these deaths, as outraged members of the community have pointed out, cannot be ignored. This is white supremacy in action.
Cassius was walking home from school. He wasn’t in “the wrong place at the wrong time”, he was exactly where he was supposed to be.
Aboriginal people, let alone kids, are never in the wrong place at the wrong time, because this is their land.
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