Death of an Aboriginal boy in Australian custody – “We’ll get you, you black cunt”


"We have to get rid of racist cops. I don't want to dwell on the past but I have grown up bitter," said Nyungar Elder Ben Taylor. Mr Taylor is on the mark when he says, "They have been killing our people for two hundred years." On 28 September 1983 a young life came to an end that sent a community into tears before it became rage and outrage dulled into anguish and sorrow by the passing of time. The tears of 28 September 1983 filled Roebourne, in Western Australia, breaking the hearts of its Yindjibarndi peoples. A mother lost her eldest son, 16 years young. John Pat's death contributed to the call for an inquiry into Aboriginal deaths. Some things have changed, however not enough has changed. His mother Mavis remembers him every hour of every day and not just on September 28 - there is a hole in her heart that nothing can mend, such is a mother's pain.



Mother Mavis's pain is shattering, often bringing her to her knees, her head buried in her arms or in her lap, and her cries often heard. Her son did not die in an accident, her son did not die of illness, he did not die by some means that in the least could make some sense - her son was stolen from life by the rapacious prejudices of racism - her son was a 'black cunt' bashed to death. The colour of his skin, his very identity, historical and contemporary, cultural and political were the liabilities that the ugliness of prejudice caught in its net. Mother Mavis and her two remaining children, John's younger sister and brother, live day in day out, slipping into every sleep with the rush of thoughts that their brother died not because of who he was in his mind's slopes or in his heart's valleys but rather for who he wasn't – he was not born ‘white’ or at least non-Aboriginal. He was someone the Saturnalian brimstone of racism, the taunting simmer of hate made inferior and where others considered themselves superior generally believed he should not walk alongside them.




To remember the life lost, of young John Pat, with less passion and with fermented rationales is to misunderstand and misrepresent racism and the hate that it obliges - it is to allow for racism to steady a foothold. His death must be remembered with the same despair that the Roebourne community greeted the shocking news - when four off-duty police officers and an off-duty police aide, inebriated by the effects of alcohol and by the bitter tasting wash of their prejudices, and by generations of cruel and nescient stereotypes shoved down their throats, vilified the life out of this boy.


On September 28, 2011 100 people coalesced to remember John Pat, his life, its meaning, the legacy, to honour his passing, his spirit, and to honour the future, our unfolding human rights language - that John Pat lives on in our urges for a better world, one far removed from the vacuum of humanity that in a mere fifteen minutes when police officers and young Aboriginal youth clashed young John Pat would leave this life. 100 folk, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, from far and wide, remembered John Pat at the now historical museum-like Fremantle Prison where a memorial stands forever to young John, inscribed with the ode dedicated to John Pat by the late Dr Jack Davis. Mother Mavis, and her youngest son, Glen, sat through the proceedings, in a well of tears as if 28 years were yesterday. Glen was 8 years old when his brother twice his age was taken from him.


On September 28 2000 the Australian Human Rights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Dr Bill Jonas said, "His death, investigated by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, became for Aboriginal people a symbol of injustice and oppression. But more than a decade after the Royal Commission, Aborigines are still dying in custody at alarming rates. And they continue to be imprisoned for minor offences despite the recommendations of the Royal Commission that jail should be a punishment of last resort." Dr Jonas continued, "The over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice is a continuing crisis. All levels of government have failed to respond adequately to the recommendations of the Royal Commission and the draconian mandatory sentencing regimes of the NT and WA have ensured that Aboriginal people continue to be jailed for trivial offences. John Pat was almost 17 years old when he was found dead in a police station lock-up in Roebourne, Western Australia on 28 September 1983. He died of head injuries sustained during a fight with off-duty police officers outside the local Victoria Hotel. Four officers and a police aide were later charged with his manslaughter but acquitted at trial."


Dr Jonas continued, "The number of Indigenous deaths in custody in the decade since the Royal Commission has been 150% the rate in the decade prior to the Royal Commission. To September 1999 there have been 147 Indigenous deaths in custody, compared to 99 in the decade before the Royal Commission. From October 1999 to 30 May 2000, there were a further eight Aboriginal deaths in custody in Western Australia alone. From 1988 to 1998, the Indigenous prisoner population (across all age groups) more than doubled. It has grown faster than non-Indigenous prisoner rates in all jurisdictions. 17.2% of all prison deaths in the 1990s have been Indigenous people, compared to 12.1% in the 1980s. The Royal Commission found that the reason Aboriginal people die in custody at such an alarming rate is because of the sheer numbers in custody. States and territories must redouble their efforts to reduce the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice process. It is at times like these - when Australia is a proud nation basking in international attention - that we should remember to refocus our efforts to protect the poor, the sick, the marginalised among us. And we should remember the toll that imprisonment for minor offences has taken on our Indigenous people."

During the evening of what would be John Pat's last day of life, the four off-duty police officers and the police aide came to the Victoria Hotel after a night of revelry and drinking at the local golf club. What would come to pass in the minutes ahead would tear a hole so deep in Mother Mavis Pat that a world would cave in within it and sink the hopes of a family and scar a community - for Roebourne, in the heart of Yindjibarndi, is known Australia-wide for the death of John Pat, and not for its red earth, it vast landscapes, or for the warm seas nearby that wash it - there are few people who bring on the mention of Roebourne without thinking of the vile racism that killed John Pat - Roebourne's history for Western Australia is what Birmingham is to Alabama.


Mother Mavis's son was 'found' dead in a prison cell, his head having been smashed on the hard earth after falling backwards from blows to his head thrashed from the subterfuge of a violent altercation with the off-duty police officers. How can Mother Mavis Pat forget the loss of her son - she cannot, and the pain has not eased in the 28 years since, and if anything it has crippled her. She bore her son to a witness of the world which innocence could not imagine, a tale it could not tell, her son came into it without warning. In the fullness of a life too brief young John Pat learned of a world that saw him cold, and with the shrill of sheer chill, weeding fears and an austere dominion of thorny meaninglessness.


In the decade since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations, Aboriginal deaths in custody went up by 150%. This trend continued during the last ten years. Indeed, it is 20 years since a royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody and yet little seems to have changed. Indeed, in terms of crude totals, the numbers have got worse, human lives are still being lost. In terms of proportion to total deaths in custody, Aboriginal deaths are proportionately higher than they were three and two decades ago. Deaths in custody is a horrific problem for Australia, and for the national moral compass, for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Australia has a worse death in custody record, both prison-custodial related and police-custodial related than most other nations of our equivalent social wealth or thereabouts - Australia has a worse record than England, Wales and Scotland, and has a record worse than South Africa.


Australia is a culture harsh on its poorest, harsh on the downtrodden and this is evidenced by our prison incarceration rates - we have the world's highest rates of incarceration of Aboriginal peoples - in addition Australia has doubled the prison population from 15,000 to 30,000 from 1991 to 2011. It is fair to argue that racism drives the criminal justice system, it is fair to argue that legislators are driven in their judgments by the inter-generational stereotypes shoved down people’s throats by the simple minds of those past and present. How else do you explain the doubling of the prison population? How else do you explain that 26% of the Australian prison population are Aboriginal peoples?


Western Australia is more racist than other states, and only challenged by the Northern Territory - Western Australia has 13 jails, and 41% of its prison population is Aboriginal. Looking closer at this let us understand that 4,500 prisoners are hulked into these 13 prisons however 2,000 of them are Aboriginal. Let us consider that the total Aboriginal population of Western Australia is almost 80,000. Therefore 1 in 40 Aboriginal people in Western Australia will be spending tonight in a cold dank prison cell. 1 in 20 Western Australian Aboriginal males will be spending the night in a prison cell, and for Aboriginal youth the rates are much worse.


Are West Australian Aboriginals this bad or is it that Western Australia is harsh, very harsh on its Aboriginal peoples? Is West Australia the hostile racist environment that lived wild on September 28, 1983, when John Pat went to the aid of a friend, whom a police officer called a 'little black cunt' and swore he'd get?

I spoke to Mother Mavis and brother Glen at the end of the memorial's remembrance of a son and brother, and their pain was as deep as those that have come before. I was reminded of pain as if past and present collapse in time, and Roebourne and Fremantle are the same earth, as if John had walked before us. Mother Mavis expected the world to change when the royal commission was called. Singed with grief, felled by a heap of racism, she said in a statement to the royal commission, "I don't know what's going to come out of the royal commission but I hope it makes everything better for Aboriginal people." Near thirty years later Mother Mavis knows all too well that little has changed. Alcohol numbs the pain when it grips her so tight that she can bear no more.


The off-duty police officers had continued their drinking at Roebourne's Victoria Hotel before they unnecessarily brawled, and with great viciousness, with the local Aboriginal youth who had also been drinking. The fight never had to have happened, it was a choice, a decision, a conviction, it was brought on needlessly however with the highest cost, that of a human life and with a hurt through so many that its pervasiveness is yet to yield.


The off-duty police officers could have walked away, most certainly, or acted with a modicum of humanity, instead hate and spite urged them on. Prejudices with their origins-of-thinking generations old, and generations removed, fired their synapses, flushing morbidly their thinking. 1983 was not 1933 and the excuses of the police officers and the police aide run thin.


John Pat died of head injuries, a torn aorta and his bruised and battered body finished up a thornbush of broken ribs. One witness was straightforward with the testimony to the Supreme Court in 1984, of the unconscious and likely lifeless John Pat - that he was "thrown like a dead kangaroo" into the back of a police van.

WA's current shadow attorney-general, John Quigley, was the police lawyer who defended the four police officers and the police aide who were brought to trial over John Pat's death. Earlier this year, in a major newspaper John Quigley was quoted, "In lieu of all the public concern and the media about John Pat's death at the time it was a great victory to win the case." I typed a text on my mobile phone and sent it to John Quigley, whom I know, "John, your insensitive statement will go down like a lead balloon with Aboriginal peoples and communities and it will cut right through the bone with the families long torn and devastated." The outrage from John Pat's death contributed to the call for the royal commission, and flowered, for only a few short springs, a trickle of hope.

The late Dr Jack Davis wrote in his book, John Pat and other poems, "Write of life, the pious said, forget the past, the past is dead. But all I see, in front of me is a concrete floor, a cell door, and John Pat." In every visit I make to a prison, I see John Pat in everyone, young and older, and every prison cell I walk past I see the dank concrete floors and what little boys, and girls, with innocence born, will grow up to see day in day out, with heads lowered, concrete floors and John Pat. The pigment of their skin and the holes in their pockets telling them of a difference which was once unknown to them and in a better world would be unknown.

The Coronial Inquest which began on 31 October, 1983 during 21 days, heard from seventy-seventy witnesses. On February 6, 1984, four police officers and a police aide were committed for trial on charges of manslaughter and they were brought before the Supreme Court in Karratha on 30 April 1984. An all-white jury of 12 men and three women acquitted them. There has never been a successful prosecution against any police or prison officer in that they contributed an unnatural hand in a police or prison custodial related incident. It all started when one local boy, Ashley James, was threatened by one of the off-duty police officers when he sought to make a purchase from the hotel's bottle shop. The off duty police officer was heard to say, "We'll get you, you black cunt."


With racism fuelling the inebriated police officer, and the culture of favour dispensation and nepotism indemnifying those uniformed in the 'blue', he followed Ashley James. Verbal abuse was served on the youth and it was so loud that it alerted the other officers to the prospect of a melee. The cruelty of the policeman pursuant of his prey led to him knocking Ashley James to the ground. Let us ensure the context of the day is understood, in that it was not the fact the officers were inebriated that caused the violence. It may have compounded the situation, however it was their racism, and this should not be argued against.


Ashley James fuelled with anger retaliated and hence a pronounced brawl ensued. Some of the other Aboriginal youth, including John Pat, tried to intervene and break up the brawl, to rescue their mate; however they found themselves either attacked by the other officers or drawn into the fight. Apparently, John Pat had tried to pull Ashley James away from the heart of the brawl.


It was at this point that one of the off-duty policemen, with an obvious deep hate wandering in his heart, walked up to John Pat and punched him in the mouth. A number of blows to John Pat spiralled from the officer’s hateful heart. A witness would testify, "he fell back, and didn't get up. I heard his head hit the road." John Pat was not the victim of just one punch, however of many punches. His life may have ended just after his head hit the road however such mitigation is foolhardy - the punches that struck him in the head, after his body was battered, and with such a force that they sent him pummelling to the ground and with such force that his head was whipped back on its neck’s nape that it would hit the ground before the rest of his body. The punches that sent spiralling back, head first, to the earth are what killed him. Don’t blame the hard earth, this is outrageous and gutless. An intention was behind the attack on John Pat.


The involved police officers may have been acquitted however till the end of days they carry with them a wrong that lies and cowardice cannot undo, they carry with them the fact they slaughtered the life out of a young man and little can perceptually modify this - John Pat was a victim, and the police officers and others past and present, inter-generational prejudices were and are the perpetrators. Aboriginal Elder, the late Dr Jack Davis AO, BEM once said, “The beginning of the cause of deaths in custody does not occur within the confines of police and prison cells or in the minds of the victims. Initially, it starts in the minds of those who allow it to happen.”

During July, 2010, Western Australian Fremantle federal member of parliament, Melissa Parke called for a royal commission into the maltreatment of Aboriginal peoples before the criminal justice system. This call came in light of the death of the Warburton Elder in the back of a prisoner transport vehicle when he was burnt to death in the hot metal heat he was trapped in on a 43 degree day on a 360 kilometre journey of death from Laverton to Kalgoorlie. His cries of anguish were ignored by the drivers. Ms Parke said the state coroner had found that “Mr Ward had suffered a terrible death while in custody which was wholly unnecessary and avoidable.” So too was the death of John Pat, and of Mulrunji Doomadjee and of T.J. Hickey and of so many others. The WA’s Director of Public Prosecutions Joe McGrath publically announced criminal charges would not be laid over Mr Ward’s death.

Ms Parke said, “The circumstances of Mr Ward’s death, just 18 days before the National Apology to Indigenous Australians, demand both justice and accountability. Accountability not simply on the part of the two G4S drivers involved, who, apart from any legal liability, showed an abysmal lack of human decency, but also on the part of the police, Corrective Services, the Department of the Attorney-General and the multinational company G4S.”

Most importantly, and indicative of a system underwritten by prejudices, biases, racism, and social engineering, and which the origins-of-the thinking that prevailed this dominion continue inter-generationally to this day, Ms Parke said, “In 1901 the WA member of Parliament for Kalgoorlie, Hugh Mahon moved a motion calling for a royal commission into the conditions of Aboriginal people in WA and the administration of justice in the lower courts of the state.” It was not heeded. Ms Parke said, “110 years later after that tabling of that motion we are here again with calls for inquiries into deaths in custody.”




The Roebourne brawl between the off-duty police officers and Aboriginal youth had lasted less than fifteen minutes, and with on-duty police arriving as the remnants of the brawl lingered, as battered and bruised Aboriginal youth were trashed into submission. The testimonies of the event are disturbing and stir the conscience of the reader - there are those who state the lifeless-like body of John Pat was kicked by a policeman, and that another policeman lifted his head by the hair to view his state. Nearby residents testified that six other youths were beaten by the off-duty police officers and some were being beaten while John Pat lay unconscious and possibly dead.

The forensic pathologist, Dr John Hinton reported that John Pat died of multiple injuries, his head injuries caused swelling and a brain haemorrhage, and that indeed he was victim to at least ten blows to his head. There were half a dozen bruises above his right ear and therefore at one stage he had been degenerated into a punching bag. The bruises and injuries to the rest of his body were so horrific that his aorta was torn, and to one family member this is as if his heart had been broken by the violence of man in the same ways the heart of Aboriginal peoples had been broken by those who chose for far too long to treat them as lesser.

John Pat’s body was laid in a police cell, however after it was confirmed he was dead, police officers washed him prior to photographs of his body being taken. During the Coroner's Inquest investigating police officer Detective Sergeant Scott when cross-examined commented that it appeared the Roebourne Police could have engaged in a perversion of the course of justice and that they may have falsified police statements and records. To Aboriginal peoples this is nothing new, it is not news to them and for to time to come will continue to not be news.


I can write with depth analysing the police reports and court transcripts and I am well versed in them, however I believe it is more important that 28 years after the death of young John Pat not to look into what we inherently know was a crime, was inhumane, was unnecessarily violent, was a cover-up, was cowardly by the courts of the day to deflect and was the burning hot racism of Western Australia’s police and of all those who judge rather than stand alongside and get to know one another, that instead I write of the harrowing pain, the anguish that not lingers in the affected, such as Mother Mavis and brother Glen, a metastatic wound, moving like the wind, without borders, from people to people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. With the understanding of what happened comes a view of the world filled with distrust in for instance our public institutions, in the police, the criminal justice system, in our parliaments and in their parliamentarians. With this stress on the aspirations of social cohesion there is a separation of peoples, the induction of class and race warfare, poverty and a hardening of souls that for some can lead to violence and other crime.


On September 28, 2011, John Pat was remembered at a memorial event in the grounds of the museum-like Fremantle Prison. Mother Mavis Pat and John’s youngest sibling, Glen Lee carried their grief that time has not let rest. It was an emotional one full of tears however for some amidst the wash of tears there was the glimmer of hope and of sunshine myriad bright. The Western Australian Deaths in Custody Watch Committee coordinated the event which brought together some 100 gatherers and mourners. Mother Mavis Pat laid a wreath by her son’s memorial and 28 years later a mother’s harrowing pain still languishing evident as she could not move from the memorial for many minutes, and for those there these minutes remain solid in time, in the slopes and valleys of our minds, in the landscape of our soul, wandering in our consciousness. Mother Mavis, her body wretched over her son’s memorial site, his spirit briefly alive in our awareness of him, her tears trickled and then streamed, and us who watched welled with tears, some holding them back and others could not, and the chill of her stifled cries cut a chill through this sunny day.


I paid my respects to Mother Mavis and to brother Glen and I could see in both the face of John, from the images I have seen of him. Mother Mavis said, “My son did not have to die, no one has to die, I never forget him.” John Pat was the eldest of three children to Mavis Pat. His youngest brother, Glen Lee, was 8 years old when 16 year old John Pat was killed. Glenn said, “I was young but I remember, we always remember, we always know. My sister and I, my mother, we cannot forget.” The remembrance was opened by the well-known Nyungar Elder, Reverend Sealin Garlett who said, “Tears that filled Roebourne then, are the tears that have brought us here today.”


The Reverend has known the pain of family, friends and community, many times of over, who have lost their loved ones in the dank confines of a prison or police cell, and every time I hear him speak, year in year out he hurts more than the year gone, for it is the abyss of despair we look into to know that nothing has changed and that his people die for no good reason. He said, “I believe that our young fellas will make the changes… They are our voice. We cannot be silent, we need to stand up and when we do this our voices will change the destiny of our direction by this so-called liberated government. If we do not do this, if we do not stand up then we will continue to live under the shadows and clouds of their dominion.”


Many of the people who attended this gathering were families thumped with harrowing anguish such as that owned by Mother Mavis and John’s brother Glen. Some families have lost three and four of their loved ones to police- or prison-related deaths in custody. Let us remind ourselves that for every death in custody there are many near deaths in custody and scores of folk maltreated.


Sylvia Mornoyarnda-Mnyirrina said, “This is still a penal colony and for Aboriginal people never has it been more so. I am appalled in the world we live in now in how this world treats Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people are the best at knowing how to live together, how to stand alongside each other. Aboriginal people understand that money does not mean more than love, that the profit of life is in love, in family. Mining exploitation is for the greed of the fancy-pancy. We need independence from racism.”


When John Pat died Harvey Coyne was a young man in prison, at Fremantle Prison, now a museum, and where the memorial for John Pat is held every year. Harvey said, “I was inside here in this prison when news of the death of John Pat came. Our heads went down - we all felt an insecurity in the system and by the forces demanding cultural assimilation. What happened to John we knew more of it would come and it has. I have seen in many, many people around me, in prison and outside prison the mental collapse of my brothers and sisters and how we are punished for this by the very system that makes this happen. 40 years later I would have hoped things would change however they have not, the fear is still there that the system is still letting us down and shutting heavy metal doors on us.”


Alison Fuller said, “I think we have to remember we are a strong people and that we have survived and that we will continue to survive. Blacks will lead the way for Blacks. We are not beggars, let us remember that, and that this is our land. Our wealth is counted in love and not in money.” Rosemary Roe said that her children are suffering at the hands of the criminal justice system and the narrow mindedness of a dull cold set of judgments.


Let us remind ourselves that Australia’s prison population, which had doubled in the last two decades, that 26% of it is Aboriginal peoples, yet Aboriginal peoples are less than 3% of the total Australian population. Let us remind ourselves that in the hotbed of Australia’s racism, Western Australia, that 41% of its prison population is Aboriginal peoples. There are 80,000 Aboriginal peoples in Western Australia however 2,000 of them are in Western Australia’s 13 prisons.


Once again let us remind ourselves, and let it never leave our thinking, that one in forty Western Australian Aboriginals will spend the night in a cold prison cell, and one in twenty Western Australian Aboriginal males will spend the night in a cold prison. The cinders and embers of this racism have damaged our psyches and damaged the Australian national identity. If you want to know the identity of a nation, if you want to know its heart and soul, its mind, then day and night look into its prisons and you will know its heart, its soul and its mind.


Rosemary said, “My children suffer and I give everything of what I have to help them and it is hard when those, whether they are police or courts don’t know how to help them and only to hurt them.” Rosemary is a first cousin of Rex Bellotti Snr whose son’s story is being highlighted by the through care journalism of The National Indigenous Times. Rosemary said, “Far too many of us are affected, and there are no barriers to gender or age. I was part of the first Death in Custody meeting in WA, in 1988 at Bunbury and here we are 33 years later after that meeting, and that meeting had been brought about by the death of John Pat. In 1997, we had the suicide of an 11 year old Aboriginal child, the youngest ever in the country. This was my first cousin’s child. This tore us up and now he is no longer the youngest suicide. When will it get better?”

Indymedia Australia online three times over and The National Indigenous Times three times in its Big Read during the last six weeks have featured the plight of Rex Bellotti Jnr and the struggle for a sliver of justice. Rex Bellotti Snr and Elizabeth Bellotti, father and mother, were to speak at the John Pat memorial however were not able to attend because they had to be by their son’s side, whose grief at what happened to him in a police-related-incident on March 6, 2009 nearly killed him and has since decimated his life. The cowardly police silence since and their pathetic twist of lies have only served to divide peoples, to enshrine the mistrust and diabolical stereotypes that led to John Pat’s death on September 28 1983. Rex Snr asked Shilo Harrison, coordinator of the Bellotti Support Group, to speak on behalf of the family at the memorial service and Shilo nailed it with, “When someone does wrong you have to own up to it because when you don’t, like the police who nearly killed Rex Jnr, then it becomes an injustice.” When it becomes an injustice it becomes a howling wind, unchecked, tearing down everything in sight, destroying everything that otherwise the common good unfolds.

The remembrance was heavily attended by the Perth based Aboriginal group, HALO, who work to help Aboriginal youth from re-offending, and to date have achieved a 100% record of success. 30 of HALO’s youth and volunteers attended, with some of the HALO dancers performing spiritual dances in memory of John Pat. HALO coordinator, Leanne Smith said, “We are here for John Pat, for his family and for all those inside. People can be helped but most of the public puts it it all in the too hard basket. They see only the statistics. Aboriginal people have the answers to their own issues and we only need to help and support them – HALO has proven this – and that we do it differently from the justice system.” Leanne said, “The travesty is not the high incarceration rates, the travesty is that they don’t need to happen.” Some of HALO’s youth are dancers and some of them danced in memory of John Pat - they performed a number of spirit dances, including the ‘Lost Boy’ and danced away the bad spirit dreams to make way for good spirit dreams.

Western Australia Deaths in Custody Watch Committee chairperson, Marianne Mackay said, “I know that we are sick of it all, it comes with being Aboriginal, however we have to stand up so we make the big changes for our people. The Pat family, this is a family that has not got justice, none of our families have ever got it. There is not enough support out there for us to get lawyers and protection.” Marianne lost the father of her eldest son as a death in custody.

The Reverend Sealin Garlett read the ode to John Pat by the late Elder Dr Jack Davis and the gathering sat silent, taking in every word and the landscape each word fills - Mother Mavis with head bowed, brother Glen with shoulders lowered, both staring to the earth – “Write of life, the pious said. Forget the past, the past is dead. But all I see, in front of me, is a concrete floor, a cell door, and John Pat. Agh! Tear out the page, forget his age. Thin skull they cried, that’s why he died! But I can’t forget the silhouette of a concrete floor, a cell door, and John Pat. The end product of Guddia (white man’s) Law is a viaduct, for fang and claw. And a place to dwell, like Roebourne’s hell, of a concrete floor, a cell door, and John Pat.” The Reverend’s crackling voice rose more, and resonated John Pat alive with all of us, “He’s there – Where? There in their minds now, deep within. There to prance, a long sidelong glance, a silly grin, to remind them all, of a Guddia wall, a concrete floor, a cell door, and John Pat.”


There is sunshine myriad bright for us all, humanity unfolding that makes more sense than inhumanity, a time coming that is only caring and of love - the frontiers to this thus far have been ugly and scary, and bloody, however as our views of each other change and we understand one another as one, those to come long after us, in a time far removed that neither our children will know, those ahead will reflect on our troubles and the days numbered that we wasted, of the lives lost, known and unknown, and of hopes dashed and they will pity those who were vanquished, shame those who could have made a difference, unveil the wrongs, however in the end they will forgive and ensure that all our descendants are one and the cry of the common good shine. Such a future will owe its peace and humanity to all those, known and unknown, who spoke up and made a difference. Example is our only immortality, it continues as the lived experiences of those who follow.