Remove commemorations to torturer of the Indigenous. Henry Vincent

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Hundreds of men and boys were imprisoned, tortured, killed and buried on Rottnest Island, WA, in the 1800s, under the tyranny of then Superintendent Henry Vincent.

And yet Mr Vincent’s name still features in street names, natural landmarks and elsewhere.

If you want to know who Henry Vincent was, hear it from Dr Stasiuk, the author of 'Wadjemup: Rottnest Island as a Black Prison and White Playground.'

Dr Stasiuk says: Henry Vincent was barbaric. He beat prisoners to death. He hanged prisoners in front of others to instill fear through the violence of his reign. 

He had no problem with shooting prisoners if they didn't do as they were told. It was hell on earth.

Does this man still need buildings and streets named after him?

2019 is the year the Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) review their management plan for the island and a year we have a chance to get them to remove commemorations to Henry Vincent and pay homage to those Indigenous people who suffered under his reign, instead.

As movements like Black Lives Matter, in the US, turn up the pressure to remove statues to slave-owners and tyrants like Robert E Lee, there is a chance to do the same on Rottnest Island.

The WA Minister for Tourism has told me that The RIA canvassed a name change in the Rottnest Island Cultural Landscape Management Plan (2015) at which time it was suggested that Superintendent Vincent’s role should be recognised but not celebrated.

The Minister says The RIA may test this proposition again in the context of the next Rottnest Island Management Plan which is due to be released in 2019.

The Minister also told me:  “ The application of Superintendent Vincent’s name to particular locations was intended in previous times to reflect the significance of his association with the Island. For example, his name is also associated with the distinctive form of roof truss employed in buildings erected on the Island under his direction. It may be that changing community values would no longer support this form of recognition of Superintendent Vincent, although there are likely to be different views in the Western Australian community.”

Now’s the time to let the RIA Board know these values have indeed changed and that Henry Vincent’s commemorations have to go.

Let’s tell Chair John Langoulant and the rest of the Board that we want to remove Henry Vincent’s commemorations and, if there are public displays referring to him, see that they include who he really was.

And let’s encourage The RIA to commemorate the Indigenous people who suffered under his reign instead.