‘Beyond racist’: vile social media posts after Maylands drowning deaths

The search command centre in Maylands. Photo: David Baylis
The search command centre in Maylands. Photo: David Baylis

THE memory of two Aboriginal boys who drowned in Perth’s Swan River after diving in to evade police has been attacked on social media.

Chris Drage, 16, and Jack Simpson, 17, were among five boys police chased on foot following reports of teenagers jumping fences in suburban Maylands on Monday afternoon.

Four of them jumped into the water and two were captured but Jack and Chris were seen struggling in the middle of the river and did not resurface, sparking an immediate search.

Aboriginal Legal Service chief executive Dennis Eggington said some of the social media posts about the tragedy were “vile”, “inhuman”, “nasty” and “beyond racist”.

“They’re worse than the most famous one by a shock jock back when four young Aboriginal boys died in a high-speed police chase: he said ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’,” Mr Eggington told the ABC on Wednesday.

“Try to have some compassion with the families, no matter what the circumstances

“Life is so precious. When they’re cut short in children it’s just such a tragedy and that’s the way it should be seen, not as some excuse to go to war with one another.”

Offensive social media posts also followed the death of Aboriginal boy Elijah Doughty, who was riding a stolen motorcycle near Kalgoorlie in August 2016 when a man, who cannot be named, chased the 14-year-old in his ute and ran over him.

A coroner will hold an inquest into Chris and Jack’s deaths, which will be treated with the same seriousness as a death in custody as police were present.

A house near where the boys were seen had been ransacked and robbed before the chase, and police have not ruled out laying criminal charges against the three survivors, but Commissioner Chris Dawson said the priority at this stage was the welfare of the families.