Ms Dhu 7a - Institutional Racism: police


Institutional Racism: South Hedland Police

Aunty Carol Roe and Ms Dhu's younger sister Yolanda are both bent over, standing in a garden outside the South Hedland Police Station. They are placing painted crosses in the ground beside a small tree they have planted in Ms Dhu's memory.

[imagecaption] Ms Dhu’s Nana, Carol Roe, and sister, Yolanda, plant a desert rose outside the South Hedland Police Station for Ms Dhu, 2015. Photo: Sebastian Neuweiller and Tyne Logan[/imagecaption]


The only member of the police force who showed any concern for Ms Dhu’s wellbeing was the most junior officer present, a fact that, as Michael Brull suggests, ‘tells us something important about the institutionalisation of racism among Australian police’.

The South Hedland Police have persistently denied they have a cultural problem; however, Ms Dhu’s death can be situated against a series of prior allegations of racism and misconduct.

  • February 2014: ‘Leon Elroy’ alleged that after being taken to the local police station, instead of being dropped home, the police ‘dumped’ him near the local rubbish tip.
  • April 2016: after a car chase involving a group of teenage boys, the ALS alleged that officers used excessive force when firearms were drawn and a gun was pointed at one of the teenage boys. A complaint was lodged on behalf of one of the boys who said he was assaulted and that he and another boy were strip searched at the South Hedland police station.
  • June 2016: two youths were allegedly picked up by police and taken to the town’s outskirts and dumped there.
  • July 2016: an off-duty police officer entered the Port Hedland station and was charged with possessing a firearm while intoxicated, unlawful damage and pointing a firearm at a person.


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