Florence Onus
Florence Onus

Activist condemns ‘gutless’ racists in wake of teen deaths

An Indigenous activist has called out racist keyboard warriors and likened them to the Ku Klux Klan for a raft of "disgusting" comments about four teenagers killed in a crash.

Florence Onus, a survivor of the Stolen Generation and descendant of the Birri-Gubba and Kairi/Bidjara clans of northeast Queensland, was disappointed but unfortunately not surprised at the level of racist slurs directed towards the teenagers leading up to their deaths on Sunday.

The children were travelling in a car that was allegedly stolen from Idalia earlier that morning. The 14-year-old driver survived and has since been charged.

Memorial for the four teenagers killed in a roadside crashat Bayswater Rd and Duckworth St. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Memorial for the four teenagers killed in a roadside crashat Bayswater Rd and Duckworth St. Picture: Alix Sweeney

The children's deaths have been thrust into the spotlight with thousands of people sharing their opinions about their lives, some victim blaming or saying they were "happy" the children were killed.

Her call for calm comes after an Australian National University study found the bias against Indigenous people was consistent across every level, with Queensland residents recording the highest level of racial bias.

Ms Onus, who has become hardened to years of racism, said it was a sickness that could not be cured and called for respect.

The wreckage of a car that was involved in a crash that killed four teenagers remained at the scene for hours on Sunday. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR
The wreckage of a car that was involved in a crash that killed four teenagers remained at the scene for hours on Sunday. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR

"Racism is a pandemic… enough is enough," she said.

"The Black Lives Matter movement has exposed worldwide the level of indicial and systemic racism, and we have been living with this level of racism since 1788.

"This is just another example of the racism pandemic that continues on out there in our own backyard from people who have no empathy for the families.

"Regardless if the car was stolen or not, it is a tragedy and children are dead."

Ms Onus, who organised Townsville's Black Lives Matter rally on Saturday, said the community had taken a huge step forward after hundreds turned out to show their support in a monumental movement for Indigenous people.

She said this was now ruined, and the community had taken "three steps back" in the days after the teenage deaths.

Florence Onus and granddaughter Armani Mooka, 11, at Townsville’s Black Lives Matter rally. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Florence Onus and granddaughter Armani Mooka, 11, at Townsville’s Black Lives Matter rally. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

"When you're a target of racism and when you're reading those sorts of comments, it's very upsetting and makes you feel sick and you feel powerless," she said.

"The biggest tragedy of all is that four young lives have been lost."

Ms Onus likened the racist keyboard warriors to the white supremacist hate group, Ku Klux Klan, saying they hid behind their computer just like the group hid behind their masks.

"It is gutless… I want people to show a bit of respect at this time," she said.

"Think about if this was your own children, how would you be feeling?"



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