WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains names and descriptions of people who have died.
Off the back of Reconciliation Week, an emotionally taxing time for First Nations people to begin with, I’m laying wide awake at 2am struggling to switch off and dissociate from what is unfolding in the United States.
What we are seeing is people hurting. People tired of the brutality, the lives being lost. How many more families must mourn the life of their brother or sister. We are seeing people who have previously taken a knee quietly, now rioting. We are seeing people at their wits end, after their cries have fallen on deaf ears. We are seeing a complete lack of empathy, understanding and leadership.
And we are seeing looters, those benefiting from the trauma.
George Floyd’s name has gone viral, and rightfully so. There needs to be justice for him and the other brothers and sisters who have been murdered at the hands of police.
But as I see the uproar unfold on social media, many of our own Australian voices are in complete disgust. As we reshare George Floyd’s image and memory in rage, how many Australians know or remember these names: Veronica Marie Nelson Walker, Kumanjayi Walker and Tanya Day. These are just three First Nations Australians who have died in custody. Since the end of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991 there have been more than 400 deaths in custody.
As a proud Goreng Goreng/Taribaleng woman, this is just one reason why I and my fellow First Nations brothers and sisters cannot rest at night.