Kalgoorlie protest: Community mourns as elders call for action against online racism.

By Courtney Bembridge

A 14-year-old boy whose death sparked a violent riot on the streets of a Western Australian town has been remembered at an emotional candle-lit vigil as community leaders call for calm but voice concerns about racism they fear sparked the incident.

Elijah Doughty was killed after he was allegedly struck by the driver of a ute while riding a motorcycle in Kalgoorlie.

The motorcycle was allegedly stolen, and according to Western Australian police was linked to the driver of the utility.

Violent scenes erupted on Tuesday outside the town’s courthouse after the accused was charged with manslaughter, with many voicing frustration that the charge was not more serious.

A dozen police officers were injured as people threw rocks and bottles, and five police cars and a local business were damaged. Several people were arrested and charged.

But as the violence waned, a large number of children and families gathered peacefully in a reserve in the town to tell stories of Elijah, lighting candles and festooning the area with flowers and coloured lights.

A local supermarket donated food.

There has also been an outpouring of grief on social media for the child, with many sharing his photo and messages of support for his family.

“He is someone’s son, brother, grandchild, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, student, team mate … He was only 14 yrs old. His Name is Elijah Doughty,” Eliza Thorne wrote.

“Rest easy dude, devastating news, thoughts are with ya pop and brothers and family,” Rory Kelly wrote.

Elijah’s grandfather Albert Doughty said his grandson was a talented footballer.

“He was a good sportsman. He’s played for Kalgoorlie City Football Club since he was 11. They got in the grand final. But he won’t be there,” he said.

Racist taunts on social media blamed for riot

Meanwhile two senior members of the community have called for police to take action against people they say are posting vicious race-based comments on Kalgoorlie community social media pages.

Bruce Smith said the death and subsequent riot had affected not just the community of Kalgoorlie, but Indigenous people across the country.

He said there was a feeling of frustration about the justice system and the comparative leniency of the charge against Elijah’s alleged killer, which may have sparked the riot.


“I think what we need to see is where is the justice,” he said.

“What are they going to do about it? The justice system, is it working for all Australians?”

He also called on the police to tackle an undercurrent of racism he said had boiled over onto social media, where Aboriginal people were being threatened with rape and violence.

“This has been brewing over years in the Kalgoorlie region,” he said.

“Those are the ones that are going to continue brewing those attitudes we don’t want to see, and it’s all coming out on social media, on Facebook.

“Our Indigenous people living in Kalgoorlie and Boulder, they will continue living [here].

“They have been living here for a long, long time, and they are part of this community, whether other people like it or not, non-Aboriginal people like it or not.

“They’ve got to learn that these people are going to live, and their descendents are going to live, and the justice system that’s going to serve them should be put right so that the future generation of our youths in this town, Goldfields and Boulder, are being protected.”

Elder Aubrey Lynch, whose grandson was close to Elijah, said he was disappointed to see the violence on the streets of Kalgoorlie.

“We don’t like violence actually happening, because it’s really buggering up our relationship with non-Aboriginal people,” he said.

“Here we are trying to build that relationship, and this kind of thing is going to happen, it’s going to separate us all.”

Elijah’s grandfather said he hoped lessons could be learnt from the boy’s death.

“I just think, well, if anything can come out of it good, it’d be for the community to wake up to themselves and realise, to keep their kids home, not let them roam the streets and the wider community to help the Aboriginal people work together and live together, live side by side instead of having this hatred,” he said.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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