Cassius Turvey’s mother urges calm at vigils saying she is angry but ‘violence breeds violence’

Mechelle Turvey says ‘outpouring of tributes across the nation has been so appreciated’ after her son was allegedly murdered

The mother of schoolboy Cassius Turvey, allegedly murdered in Perth, has called for calm ahead of nationwide vigils to honour her son who she says was the “heart and soul” of the local community.

A 21-year-old man has been charged with the Indigenous teenager’s murder after the alleged attack on 13 October when Cassius and several of his friends were walking home from school in Middle Swan.

Western Australian police have said they are investigating allegations of racial slurs being used but have made clear they are not speculating about possible reasons for the alleged murder. They have said they believe a metal pole was used in the assault.

Cassius’s mother, Mechelle Turvey, released a statement ahead of attending the Perth vigil on Wednesday afternoon. Her words will be echoed by vigil organisers around the country and overseas.

“I need to call out for calm,” Turvey said.

“I am angry, Cassius’s friends and family are angry, [but] I don’t want any form of violence, at any of these rallies in the name of my child. Violence breeds violence, I want calm and peace.

“I don’t want to fuel prejudices, biases. I don’t want to fuel the stereotypes of First Nations people as violent.”

Turvey in the statement spoke of her loss and grief but also her gratitude to supporters in Australia, New Zealand and the US where rallies and vigils will also be held. Almost $600,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page.

Mechelle Turvey wearing a black tshirt with a photo of her son on it speaks from a lecturn
Mechelle Turvey, mother of Cassius Turvey, speaks during a rally in memory of her son on 2 November in Perth. Photograph: Matt Jelonek/Getty Images

“The love, the generosity, the kindness, and the outpouring of tributes across
the nation has been so appreciated,” Turvey said.

“My family and I send our love to each one of you for supporting, for raising voices and for showing so much kindness and respect. I am overwhelmed and eternally grateful.”

In the statement, Turvey paid tribute to her son as a young leader and a proud Noongar and Yamatji teenager.

“We knew from the early days Cassius would be a shining star. This was easily seen by his family by the way he smiled, he laughed. He was jovial, kind and his heart – larger than life.”

Turvey was critical of the initial police response to the attack on her son, demanding to know why they only took a brief statement from him before his death. He was attacked on 13 October and died in hospital 10 days later.

“There was no contact with me, his mother. Why? It takes a loss of a loved one to get a proper duty of care an investigation,” she said on Wednesday. “Cassius was talking at the hospital and [they] should have taken his full statement but never did.”

The teenager’s mother is urging the state government to invest in more youth programs to address bullying and violence against children and young people.

“There must be significant awareness about bullying and that we need funded ‘mentoring’. You can’t just put up a poster about bullying, you need mentors.”

Turvey’s statement comes as the WA police commissioner, Col Blanch, met privately to extend his condolences to the Turvey family as the investigation into Cassius’s death continues.

The commissioner and senior police officers met with Aboriginal leaders to discuss how to work with the local community reeling after the death.

WA police said Blanch and other senior officers discussed “ways forward” with more meetings expected in coming months.

“WA police force works hard to foster constructive and meaningful relationships with Aboriginal community members at all levels,” police said in a statement.

The nationwide vigils and rallies come after Monday’s candlelit vigil which drew thousands from across Perth to remember the teenager.


Sarah Collard

The GuardianTramp

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