The man exposed in Crikey and The National Indigenous Times last week for selling “White Power Alice Springs” T-shirts — a response to the recent bashing death of an Aboriginal man allegedly by five young white local males — has been charged with offensive behaviour and making a false statement.

The man who identified himself as “Red” — but whose real name is Denis Donohue, aged 48 — was charged by police for selling the T-shirts and caps from his vehicle. His 4wd ute was photographed in front of the Alice Springs council chambers. The merchandise hanging in the vehicle — replete with a for sale sign — included Nazi swastikas.

Several complaints by at least two local residents to police and council officials were initially ignored. But a lengthy (28-minute) interview with NIT and Crikey about the shirts, laced with foul language and just about every racial epithet ever used to describe Aboriginal people, pricked the interest of local officials.

Thus, it was a more contrite Denis Donohue who wandered into the ABC Alice Springs studios a day after the story broke, sparking significant local and national media interest.

In a pre-recorded interview played to morning listeners, “Red” described himself as “the village idiot” and apologised for his actions, blaming his foul-mouthed interview and his attempted sale of the T-shirts on a “drug problem”.

Donohue claimed that he had received death threats as a result of the publicity, which possibly explains why he allegedly removed the distinctive GANGSTA numberplates from his vehicle. It doesn’t, however, explain why he then reported them stolen to police. But that does explain why he was subsequently charged with making a false statement.

Donohue has been bailed to appear in Alice Springs local court in October.

Chris Graham is editor of The National Indigenous Times.

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