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Family of Wayne Fella Morrison plead for spit hood ban

Rachael Knowles -

Please note: This story contains reference to someone who has died.

The family of Wayne Fella Morrison gathered in Tarndanyangga Victoria Square on Thursday calling on State and Federal Governments to ban spit hoods in prisons and police stations.

The family gathered with supporters in the early afternoon for a media conference, announcing the launch of a new petition banning spit hoods and calling upon South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman, Premier Steven Marshall and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services Vincent Tarzia to make the use of spit hoods illegal.

Morrison died in custody at Royal Adelaide Hospital in September 2016.

Whilst on remand at Adelaide's Yatala Labour Prison, Morrison was handcuffed, restrained by ankle flexi-cuffs and put in a spit hood.

He was placed face down into a prison van accompanied by seven prison officers and transported to G Division, the high security section of the prison.

He was pulled unresponsive from the van and died three days later. There is no CCTV evidence from inside the van.

The call to action, which was live-streamed on social media, saw various speakers including Morrison's mother Caroline Andersen and sibling Latoya Rule.

"My son was 29 when his life was taken from him. As a family, we have had to make the decision to turn off his life support machine. No parent should ever have to make this decision, no parent should ever have to watch their child die," said Andersen.

"I am angry at the lack of accountability from Corrections, I'm angry that they get to be paid thousands of dollars for more than 14 lawyers collectively to represent them and their interests and we only have two.

"I'm angry that from the beginning we have had a minimum of voice in our matter, every delay feels like a new splinter, I am tired and have waited so long. We demand answers."

Andersen, who has been calling for answers for five years said Thursday was the day the family broke their silence.

"We are here today because it is time to voice what is happening and what has happened to us," she said.

"We are breaking the silence that was forced upon us and continues to be so.

"We must ban spit hoods."

The coronial inquiry into Morrison's death is currently taking place in Adelaide. The Coroner is expected to hand down the findings on Friday morning.

"We have waited almost five years through a coronial inquiry, for what? To stand here before you today and speak of the atrocities of how Wayne's life and ours have been further disrespected? Rendered invisible and silenced?" Rule said.

"We are here to make sure no other person's life is stolen in this brutal way.

"Wayne did not hood himself, Wayne did not cuff himself, Wayne did not carry himself face down into a prison van with anybody inside."

"He did not consent to being restrained, there were people present, prison officers. We want answers."

Rule cemented that the call to action was to see spit hoods "immediately and permanently banned".

"We want every single prison and police station in this country, every State and Territory Government to choose to treat people as humans. To respect us, this is a choice," Rule said.

"People in government can decide to save lives by banning spit hoods right now.

"We call upon Attorney-General Vickie Chapman, Premier Steven Marshall and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services Vincent Tarzia to respond to our call and change the laws today."

After the speakers, multiple people dressed in correctional services uniforms wearing spit hoods emerged from a van. The family, holding bouquets of flowers, moved between them.

Protestors dressed in correctional uniforms and wearing spit hoods were part of the call to action. Photo supplied.

The family has asked the public to support their fight by signing a petition.

"We deserve answers about what happened to Wayne in that van but we also deserve action here and after," said Rule.

"My brother was an artist, a fisherman and a father, we love him and we miss him dearly."

To sign the petition, click here.

By Rachael Knowles

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