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.