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Northern Territory

Sep 10, 2009

‘White power’ t-shirts for sale in Alice Springs

As Alice Springs grapples with the alleged bashing death of an Aboriginal man by five young white men, one man has begun selling "Alice Springs White Power" t-shirts and caps. Outside the Council offices...

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As Alice Springs grapples with the alleged bashing death of an Aboriginal man by five young white men, one man has begun selling “Alice Springs White Power” t-shirts and caps from his car. And it’s all happening outside the Alice Springs Town Council offices, with local police and council officials refusing at least two requests by local residents to shut the man down.

The t-shirts and caps were yesterday on display in the passenger side window of a 4WD ute parked directly across the road from the council chambers.

The t-shirts include a swastika motif:

The number plates on the vehicle read “GANGSTA”, and a hand-written sign was taped to the back passenger window advertising the shirts and caps:

The sign included pricing — $25 for a shirt, $25 for a cap or to [sic] for $35. The sign includes a mobile phone contact.

The sale of the merchandise follows the July 25 death of Donny Ryder, an Aboriginal trainee ranger, aged 33. Mr Ryder was walking home along an Alice Springs back street when a group of five white youths aged 19-24 allegedly alighted from a 4WD and bashed him to death.

The youths have each been charged with murder, and up to nine counts of reckless endangerment — about a half hour before the bashing death the youths also allegedly drove their vehicle at itinerant Aboriginal men and women camping on the dry bed of the Todd River.

Two residents who contacted the National Indigenous Times last night said the man had been seen making several sales of the t-shirts outside the council chambers. After complaining to council officers they were told no by-laws were being broken because the sign advertising the vehicle was situated inside — not outside — the vehicle.

One of the residents who complained (and requested anonymity) said: “The fact he was sitting out the front of the council building, probably within view of many security and CCTV cameras … I think it’s pretty brazen.

“By doing it in front of council he’s trying to assert some sort of power. He’s trying to say that he has immunity to spread hate around town.”

The residents said they also complained to local police but officers declined to take any action. Calls to the Northern Territory government also fell on deaf ears.

A spokesperson for NT Police this morning confirmed officers had received one complaint, but made no further comment.

We didn’t, however, have much trouble getting comment from the seller of the t-shirts.

The owner of the vehicle is a local man in his late 40s. He identified himself only by his nickname, ‘Red’. In a lengthy interview, Red unleashed a torrent of racial abuse, after initially claiming that the t-shirts and caps weren’t for sale.

“I’m not selling the t-shirts, I’m giving them to people who want them,” Red said. But when told NIT had photographs of the advertising signs in Red’s car, he replied, “You’re just some white c-nt who’s a f-cking n-gger lover.”

Red claimed the shirts were popular among local residents — even police had shelled out the $25.

“I’ve sold them to police … I’ve sold them to nurses, school teachers. No c-nt has ever come up to me and said nothing about it. I wear my shirts and hats everywhere I go,” he said.

Red said the Alice Springs community was angry at the death of a white man allegedly bashed to death by several Aboriginal men earlier this year. He said he had grown up in the central Australian town and that Aboriginal people were the source of all the problems.

He pointed to the fact jails in the Territory were full of black criminals as proof that Aboriginal people were the cause of Alice Springs’ problems. “… 80% inside were f-cking n-ggers for doing sh-t,” he said, later conceding that he knew because he’d “done time … for flogging the f-ck out of some c-ons”.

Red said that “n-gger lover d-ckhead lawyers and reporters” only made the problem worse because they defended Aboriginal people.

A spokesperson for Alice Springs town council this morning said that the council was unable to act because there had had been no sign of “paraphernalia” being sold. Instead, it was simply a singlet that was visible from the outside of the vehicle.

Chris Graham is editor of the National Indigenous Times.

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63 comments

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63 thoughts on “‘White power’ t-shirts for sale in Alice Springs

  1. Jon Hunt

    Clearly there are a few anti-social traits on display here. It won’t matter what you say or do, they will still be the same. Admittedly it would be better if people such as this were put somewhere safe where they can not cause too much trouble, preferably somewhere where they can’t escape from.

  2. james mcdonald

    I suppose it would be stupid of me to ask if the police checked with a prosecutor before shrugging off multiple complaints. Council by-laws? What has inside/outside the car got to do with anything?

    Or is it me who is caught napping and the Racial Hatred Act is also suspended in NT?

  3. james mcdonald

    Well, bugger me, looks like it is me that is caught napping, and maybe the Racial Hatred Act is indeed suspended in NT. That act is just an amendment to the Racial Discrimination Act.

    Does that mean you can now legally hold KKK anti-black rallies and burn crosses on Anzac Hill?

  4. Hugh Ripper

    Are this guy’s sentiments popular amongst the non-aboriginal population in the outback? We city dwellers tend to be a bit isolated from what people think in the bush. If so, it sounds like a pretty scary place to live, especially if your black.

  5. stephen martin

    I don’t know about Alice Springs by-laws regarding For Sale signs in, or on, cars but it certainly illegal in Darwin to display For Sale signs in cars, but it may not be actively policed.
    There was a clamp down by the Darwin City Council against For Sale signs on cars parked on vacant land advising of car sales, a year or so ago. At the time the council also mentioned For Sale signs on car on the road as being illegal.
    It’s a pity that the same is not the law in Alice.

  6. Alison

    I was going to make the same comment as James – surely there are grounds of racial villification here? If this red-neck was targeting Jewish people, or some other ethnic minority, he’d be hauled before the courts for inciting racial hatred.

    I note that the NT has an Anti-Discrimination Act, but not being an expert, it isn’t clear to me whether this kind of activity falls under “discrimination” given the vendor may be just as happy to sell his wares to aboriginal people as he is to “whites” (though heaven knows why anyone of any creed or colour would want them).

    Just one more reason for the Commonwealth to hurry up and un-suspend the RDA. I wonder if the suspension really has the unexpected side-effect of protecting perpertrators of hate crimes, or if the suspension had limited application – does anyone know?

  7. Aphra

    Those of us who have travelled the length and breadth of the Wide Brown Land, know that this is only the tiny tip of the racial abuse and degradation which is endemic, especially in country areas.

    In fact, if the poverty, destitution, hatreds, violence and utter despair which is visited upon many indigenous Australians, shamefully, in their own land, were known throughout the world, we’d probably be regarded as perpetrating genocide and on a par with the most shocking excesses of rogue African and Asian states. And those of us who’ve visited and seen the despicable racism still practised in the southern states of the US are given pause when we witness much, much worse, in so-called liberal, tolerant Australia.

    On the other hand, I believe that the majority of ordinary Australians have absolutely no idea of what’s going on in their own country. For this, I blame the press which is generally silent on the atrocious third-world conditions in which so many of our fellow Australians struggle to survive. Maybe Crikey could commission a photographer to visit some of these Aboriginal communities and show how some are actually reduced to living in one of the world’s richest democracies.

    Of course, one can’t really change ingrained hatreds and senseless racist hostilities but we shouldn’t, passively, allow them to flourish, unhindered.

    The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Nationals, Minister Macklin, whatever clown is currently Chief Minister of the NT and the mayor of Alice Springs should make a televised joint-appearance decrying this aggressively hateful behaviour. If there are no laws which proscribed encouraging racism, then all representative political leaders should not hesitate to make it abundantly clear that Australia will simply not tolerate it. And freedom of speech doesn’t come into it, or if it does, then balance that against the basic rights of every Australian to simply live, not be abused and humiliated, and not made to apologise for the colour of their skin nor their social norms and religious beliefs.

    But I guess that all will shrug, Beckett-like, braying, ‘nothing to be done’.

  8. james mcdonald

    I agree Aphra, I’ve been out of touch with the outback for some years but Aboriginals were being widely vilified in the 80s and 90s outside the big cities, and things don’t change very fast there.

    I remember a popular joke about a policeman giving a priest a lift when he swerves to kill some Aboriginals walking along the road, the policeman blasphemes about having missed one, then apologizes to the priest, who replies “Don’t worry I got him with the door.” With a few notable exceptions, whole pubs could roar with laughter at that one.

  9. Most Peculiar Mama

    They were also flying white balloons in Darwin on Tuesday.

    Should someone notify the police and UNHREOC?

    Sometimes free speech means defending the indefensible.

    I smell a beat up.

  10. james mcdonald

    MPM, you lost me, some of us can’t keep up with your brilliance. Free speech has never meant unlimited speech. In what way do you smell a beat up?

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