NEARLY 500 protestors marched to parliament house on Tuesday demanding “Justice for Elijah” Doughty, the 14-year-old boy who was run over and killed by a male driver outside Kalgoorlie last year.
The man, whose name has been suppressed by the courts, was cleared by a supreme court jury of manslaughter and sentenced to three years for dangerous driving.
He was out searching for two stolen motorbikes when he came across Elijah riding a small 70cc motorcycle.
The driver followed Elijah hoping it would lead him to the stolen bikes, but he said he accidentally ran the boy down after Elijah swerved in front of him. The driver then called police and attempted first aid but Elijah had died on impact.
There was a heavy police presence around Forrest Place, with about 40 cops including mounted police and cops on bikes on hand.
The crowd was angry, sad and frustrated at the Doughty verdict, the driver, and the long history that’d led to the situation.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder was a tinderbox in the lead-up to the event, with much of the white population at their wit’s end over the frequent petty crime they endured, and the Aboriginal community the target of ingrained racism, from the underlying subtle end of the scale—a lack of opportunity and systemic prejudice—to openly being abused in the streets.
Even the Kalgoorlie-Boulder mayor John Bowler had publicly said each generation of Aboriginal people is “worse than the one before”.
Former premier Colin Barnett had said last year that racism in the area was a problem the state government needed to address.
Last year he’d said he expected the charge in the Doughty trial would be manslaughter rather than the lesser offence of dangerous driving.
On Tuesday Mr Barnett, no longer premier, watched on from the sidelines as the crowd gathered in front of parliament, a number stopping to get selfies with him.
He told the Voice he held out hope that the upcoming $1.3 billion native title agreement—while not covering the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area specifically—would serve as a symbolic turning point and ease some of the tensions that’d led to this situation.
by STEVE GRANT and DAVID BELL