Angry crowds gathered in the streets of Perth and Kalgoorlie on Friday after a 56-year-old man was found not guilty of the manslaughter of a Western Australian Aboriginal teenager in 2016.
Fourteen-year-old Elijah Doughty died in Kalgoorlie after being struck by a ute while allegedly riding a stolen motorbike police linked to the accused man, whose identity has been suppressed. The manslaughter charge handed down to the 56-year-old sparked a series of violent protests and racially charged abuse in the town, which remains deeply divided.
Grief is the word to describe the atmosphere here in Kalgoorlie at the moment - people in the crowd deeply upset by this outcome. pic.twitter.com/ZAqXWgmbpO— Sam Tomlin (@SamTomlin539) July 21, 2017
On Friday, the Western Australian Supreme Court in Perth found the accused not guilty of the manslaughter charge, but guilty of dangerous driving occasioning death following a four-day trial and more than six hours of jury deliberation.
The verdict handed down to the man carries a three-year prison sentence -- considerably less than the maximum possible manslaughter sentence of life in jail -- with parole possible in February due to the man being remanded in custody since August 2016.
The decision was immediately met with a tirade of verbal abuse directed towards the accused in the courtroom, according to an ABC report, before furious individuals took to the streets outside the court.
At the same time, a large protest crowd gathered in Kalgoorlie as the verdict was delivered.
They're still killing us and getting away with it. This verdict says you can kill a black kid. https://t.co/hanTkPBzdE— Senator Briggs (@BriggsGE) July 21, 2017
If #ElijahDoughty was a white kid named 'Brock Sutherland' would they treat this the same? Would he even be dead? Racist Australia wins.— Senator Briggs (@BriggsGE) July 21, 2017
A group of around 100 people carrying Aboriginal flags and wearing 'Black Lives Matter' shirts marched down the main street of Kalgoorlie following the verdict, including local Aboriginal elders and Indigenous rights activists, chanting "what do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now."
Acts of violence and destruction were seen throughout Kalgoorlie last year in light of Doughty's death as racial tensions came to a head.