CONTENT WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following article contains images of deceased persons.
Almost three years after the death of Tanya Day in police custody, social media tributes flowed in on Tuesday on what would’ve been the Yorta Yorta woman’s 58th birthday.
Many on Instagram wore pink to remember Day – following a suggestion made by her son Warren’s young daughter.
“A special request from Warrens 8yo daughters Allira. She’s had a beautiful idea how to honour her Nan for her birthday and wants everyone to join in and wear something pink,” read a message on the Instagram account @justicefortanyaday.
“Please have a read of this poster she made and share it so everyone can get involved. Don’t forget to take a photo and tag us 💕🎀🌸 #justicefortanyaday.”
Day was arrested by police for public drunkenness after falling asleep on a Melbourne train in December 2017.
She was taken to Castlemaine police station where she fell and hit her head on a wall in a cell. She was left lying on the floor for three hours till police checked on her. She died in hospital 18 days later.
Day’s family said they believed she would’ve been treated differently had she not been a First Nations woman.
Following an inquest in 2019, in August this year no criminal charges were laid against the police officers involved in the case.
Day’s daughter Apryl told HuffPost Australia on Wednesday that the positive support of the #pinkfortanya movement was “overwhelming” and greatly appreciated.
“It’s definitely been overwhelming in a positive way. To see so many people honour and pay respects to mum is comforting for our family,” she said.
“It’s given us a positive outlook on a difficult day. It’s meant everything to us watching people around the world participate and share this moment together. Goes to show people are watching and acknowledging the injustices Aboriginal people are facing in this country. Mum would’ve loved this.”
The Guardian’s special 2018 Deaths Inside report used 10 years of coronial data to find that 407 Indigenous Australians had died in police care since the end of 1991’s royal commission.
The deaths of First Nations people in custody has recently worsened, The Guardian reports.
Cases include 26-year-old Dunghutti man David Dungay who was taped saying “I can’t breathe” 12 times before he died while being held down by five prison guards.
And Kumanjayi Walker who died after being shot in the Northern Territory community of Yuendumu in November 2019. A police officer has since been charged with murder over the death of the 19-year-old man.
And Tane Chatfield a 22-year-old man who died in Tamworth Correctional Centre in 2017. At the time, NSW Police Force said in a statement “it’s not being treated as suspicious” but Chatfield’s family does not believe he took his own life.
Since the death of George Floyd, a Black American man who was killed on May 25 when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians have taken to the streets to demand an end to the status quo of racism not just in the US but in our own land.
With additional reporting by Carly Williams.