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Car convoy to Long Bay Prison demands justice for Indigenous deaths in custody

Police did not stop this action from going ahead.

Photo: James Sherriff.

A car convoy of over 100 people and 40 cars circled Long Bay Prison today to demand justice for Indigenous deaths in custody and to support the prisoners living inside.

Car honking resonated throughout the area, and residents came out of their houses to watch the convoy and in many cases, show their support to the movement.

The contingent met first at Heffron Park in Maroubra, where speeches were made.

The demands of the action included immediately reinstating COVID-19 safe visits to imprisoned people, defunding the police and prison systems in place of funding towards community approaches to transformative justice, and finding immediate justice for all deaths in custody.

Lizzie Jarrett, cousin to David Dungay Jnr, who lost his life in Long Bay Prison in December of 2015, spoke to the importance of the action.

“I’m not just standing here as a Dungay family member right now. I’m standing here on behalf of every single black, beautiful person who has lost their life to this system.”

“I’m making sure we understand what today really means. There are still men working in this place that taunt our other black brothers that are behind bars, letting them think they’ll be the next David Dungay.”

“There is no ‘get over it’, there is no ‘it happened so long ago’. It is happening now, it is happening last week, it is happening yesterday, and I can guarantee by the time I speak to you all again, it will have happened again.”

Organisers pointed out in the Facebook event for today’s convoy that racist policing puts Indigenous peoples in police custody and in prisons at an exceedingly higher rate than non-Indigenous people, making up 3.3% of the population but over 28% of the adult prison population.

“We’re going to keep going, we’re going to keep bringing this awareness, we’re going to keep being strong,” Lizzie said.

Prison abolition activist Georgia Mantle shared the perspective of prisoners in Long Bay Prison, who had written a statement to be read following the tear-gassing that occurred in June of this year.

“We prisoners passionately embrace the commitment of Black Lives Matter, other organisations and people to force change on the way authorities degrade, attack and kill us.”

“There was no permission for our representative Inmate Development Committee to speak to the media about our views on the George Floyd killing, the David Dungay killing and the changes recommended by the Coroner. Please help us to have our voices heard in all these forums, rather than be dehumanised as though we are of no value and have no rights.”

Two police cars were present throughout the event and guarded the entries to the Long Bay Prison car park, but police did not stop the convoy from going ahead and issued no fines.