The wicked flee when no-one pursues


My unit adjoins a garage that accesses a public laneway at the rear of the property.
At 2:15pm on Thursday, 22 September, I was in my unit when I heard the rattle of a spray paint can followed by a hissing sound just outside the garage roller door.
I picked up my little digital camera, switched it on, and proceeded silently to the gate in the rear fence. As I stepped out into the laneway I noticed the distinct smell of wet paint. A large squiggle of red paint – a tag – had appeared on the exterior of a garage roller door.
Two big teenage lads – both taller than me – were already some distance away, walking towards the Todd River. Neither was Aboriginal.
I said not a word but raised my camera, zoomed in a little, and snapped a photo.
The lad on the left chanced to look behind and saw me with my raised camera. He must have warned his mate – they both walked a few more steps then bolted just as I took my second photo.
A similar event had occurred a few days earlier, on Saturday, 17 September, and also at 2:15 pm.
On this occasion I was actually in the garage when I heard footsteps approaching outside. From the murmur of voices there were at least two individuals who had stopped just outside my garage door.
Then I heard the sound of creaking metal as pressure was applied to the frame of the roller door. Were they attempting to break in?
After a couple of seconds it was apparent no, they were painting! I called out loudly: “What are you doing?”
This was followed instantly by the sound of running feet as the two anonymous scoundrels took flight.
By the time I got to the laneway there was no sign of anybody, but the middle pillar of the garage featured a still-dripping, freshly painted black tag.
As I stood in the empty laneway I recalled a favourite biblical quote: The wicked flee when no-one pursues but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
All the same, I wonder how a youth curfew will curtail the behaviour of well-heeled white youths whose anti-social activities are perpetrated in broad daylight?
UPDATE: Police have informed Mr Nelson that the youths were identified from the photo by their school principal. They ran but they couldn’t hide!


  1. Since when has the curfew been a black or white issue? It’s about getting all youths off the street. Mr Nelson seems to have this as a race issue. It is not, it is a behaviour issue. Get all youths off the streets and reduce our crime.

  2. In response to John Barnes, the first point is that this issue is overwhelmingly regarded as a race issue – tacitly, if not publicly acknowledged. And as for the curfew being about “getting all youths off the street”, my understanding is that this is meant to occur during the nights. The events I described both occurred in the afternoons – Mr Barnes seems to be implying that youths should be “off the streets” at all times of the day.
    On one of these occasions I described, the youths were out during school hours, but these lads are almost certainly in their final years at high school so they had probably finished classes early on that day and were making their way home or to the town centre. The other incident occurred on a Saturday afternoon. So should all youths be off our streets at these hours?
    I was a youth in Alice Springs a long time ago; and rest assured, youth issues were a problem here in those times, too. It never ceases to bemuse me how readily we view our recent history with rose-tinted glasses. Somehow the problems we face right now are always the worst they’ve ever been.
    Nowhere is this better demonstrated, however, than with the Alice Springs News. In the penultimate paper edition of March 3, 2011, the front page story was about a public meeting agonizing about what to do with youth crime in our town; the very first edition of the Alice Springs News was published on March 3, 1994, with the front-page headline “The kids who trash Alice” – exactly 17 years apart.
    What goes round comes round.


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