John Pat Day 2020

John Pat Day 2020
On 28 September 1983, John Pat, a 16 year old Aboriginal boy died of head injuries alleged to have been caused in an altercation between Aboriginal people and Police in Roebourne. Four police were charged with manslaughter but acquitted. The death was the catalyst for the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
Pat’s death became a symbol of systemic violence and racial injustice and oppression for Aboriginal people. The story deeply moved Indigenous poet Jack Davis, who wrote the following poem five year’s after John’s death in 1988.
Write of life
the pious said
forget the past
the past is dead.
But all I see
in front of me
is a concrete floor
a cell door
and John Pat
Agh! tear out the page
forget his age
thin skull they cried
that's why he died!
But I can't forget
the silhouette
of a concrete floor
a cell door and John Pat
The end product
of Guddia law
is a viaduct
for fang and claw,
and a place to dwell
like Roebourne's hell
of a concrete floor
a cell door
and John Pat
He's there- where?
there in their minds now
deep within,
there to prance
a sidelong glance
a silly grin
to remind them all
of a Guddia wall
a cell door
and John Pat
'John Pat' Jack Davis, 1988
Protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne in June 2020 - Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Black Lives Matter Movement

Aboriginal deaths in custody are still ongoing on a grossly disproportionate scale, and have again become a headlining issue in 2020 during the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement. Initial 2020 protests were sparked in the USA after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, and the movement quickly caught on around the world.
As the movement reached Australia, Indigenous Australians and their allies highlighted the huge problems in our local police system, with a long line of Aboriginal deaths in police custody still remaining unexplained and unresolved. In response, people took to the streets across the country in peaceful protests, calling for greater awareness and insight into this glaring, yet all too often ignored issue, and demanding immediate change.

Remembering John, and others like him

On the 28th of September each year Australia remembers John Pat, and the countless other stories like his. We at Life Apparel fully acknowledge the oppression and systemic racism that Aboriginal people have endured, and continue to endure. Through helping to spread awareness and sharing the stories of our First Nations peoples, we strive to contribute to the the change that is so desperately needed in this country.
Today our heartfelt thoughts go to the families of those who have needlessly lost their lives in custody, and through other similar acts of injustice.

1 comment

  • Tosca Zraikat

    So glad you wrote about this. It is important that we speak about racism and race issues out in the open, and support those who are doing so, because no matter how good things might look on the outside as we shop and meet friends and do all the ordinary stuff of life, until we end the sickness of racism, our society will never be healthy. Well done, Life Apparel.


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