“The Second Father” — a Brisbane Better Book?

thes second father_3.inddSome questions arising from the publication of  ‘The Second Father A view from the inside : the true story of Domenico Cacciola’

[Domenico Cacciola, Carmelo Cacciola and Ben Robertson. St Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2009.1 v.AN: 43767454 ISBN: 9780702237126 (pbk.) $34.95]

It seems that the entire Queensland Special Branch are dragging out their diaries to write memoirs.

Take a back seat Barry Krosch, Domenico Cacciola has decided to tell all. Surely he is not going to reveal the political corruption of the Queensland Special Branch, the lies,  the verbals, the political arrests, how Special Branch stopped street marchers from getting employment with the State Government and more … in Domenico Cacciola’s book with the original title of “The Second Father

Anti-uranium demonstration 30 October 1978

Anti-Uranium demonstration, King George Square, 30 October 1978

Domenico Cacciaola  was not  part of the “Joke” – the corrupt system run by police including Commissioner Lewis, Jack Herbert and Tony Murphy.

Cacciola describes how, in the Southport SP betting case in late 1974, he and two of his superiors were set up by the bagman, Jack Herbert who, was later exposed by the Fitzgerald Inquiry and given immunity from prosecution to provide evidence against Police Commissioner Terry Lewis.

So both Lewis and Herbert set Cacciola up in the same way he set up so many street marchers during the Joh years. He partly explains his experience as being a dispute between Mason and Catholic.

Cacciola sets the record straight on Terry Lewis, even though he was part of the special branch organisation that helped make 3,000 arrests from 1977-1979 when Lewis refused march permits in order for Joh to export yellow cake (uranium).

Domenico made a few political arrests himself too. Pictured below is his arrest of an anti-uranium demonstrator outside Magistrates court in South Brisbane after the demonstration where 418 people were arrested for their opposition to Uranium mining and export.

The Lanky Yank
Domenico says in the Second Father (at page 126) that a stranger appeared at one demonstration during the Queensland street marches (1977-1979) and ‘quickly assumed the role of ringleader‘ and that ‘your spies could not find any information on him‘.

You say that there was a confrontation during which you took a few protesters to the Stanley Street watch-house.

Domenico, your memory is poor, that demonstration where the Queensland police  made ‘a few arrests’ was on the 22 October 1977. You also say that we stood for nothing.

This  demonstration to stop uranium mining and export from Queensland was the largest single day of mass arrest in Australian history (before or since).

Police arrested 418 people on that day.

Even a quick look back at the Sunday and Courier Mail editions (part of the Murdoch press) in the days that followed would set you straight on some of the facts.  Who did the research for this book? It just goes to show the poor research skills of the Qld Special Branch.

You say that the Lanky Yank called you ‘Mr Goebells’. Well, you say you were spying on the Communist Party. You say that this American was marching up and down and egging the protesters on.

What I observed on that day was that we were waiting to be processed in the magistrates court. Civil Liberties lawyer, Terry O’Gorman, was in Manhattan Park telling us that we should enter ‘no plea’ when we went to court as there was legal doubt about the ban on street marches imposed by Bjelke-Petersen and your boss Terry Lewis.

You say the Lanky Yank was hysterical.

Yet he was laughing at your comic assault on him. You had him around the throat arching him backward as you were a stocky build and he was tall. You say that the lanky yank forfeited bail and that you never saw him again.

You forget that there was a series of unlawful detentions of the American, one only a few days later described in The Lanky Yank.

You also say that you were king hit on Hamilton Wharf during the meatworkers’ protests against the live export dispute that was taking away their livelihood. You say that Geoff Wills assaulted you breaking your teeth. This is a slander and a lie. Geoff Wills never assaulted you. Quite the opposite.

Here is the story that you did not publish in “The Second Father”.

In August 1977, we were down at Hamilton Number 4 wharf in Brisbane trying to stop a shipment of uranium from getting onto the docks. It was 9 pm at night. We had assembled on the railway track in a small group as the Uranium shipment approached. There would have been about 100 or so uniformed police in attendance. Someone was holding a transistor radio. The ABC National 9 o’clock news came on. They announced that we had already been cleared off the track by the Queensland police in attendance.

Domenico Cacciola arrests anti-uranium demostrator

Domenico Cacciola arrests democratic rights activist on 24 October 1977

The train approached. Cops charged us from the darkness. We were shoved in a heap beside the railway as the yellow cake containers went through. We were literally piled on top of one another with the coppers holding us down until the shipment was on the wharf.

From the shadows stepped Domenico Cacciola of the Queensland Special Branch. Cacciola had been set-up to verbal an SP bookmaker in the Southport Betting Case and sent to the police stables in disgrace but later was promoted to the Special Branch, the ‘Green Mafia’ because it was run by a catholic, Les Hogan, and had a number of other catholics in it. A short man, you crouched down beside us and began to speak to a person at the bottom of the pile: “Mr. Monza, Mr. Monza, we’re going to get ya”. He had mispronounced a common Lebanese name.

Three people were arrested that night, a seaman, Geoff Wills, his wife, Nancy, and a printer.

Are you sure, Domenico, that you have not confused the date and the issue in the same way that you did after the big anti-uranium demonstration? I have invited your publisher to reply to this. You have slandered Geoff and Nancy Wills, probably in the knowledge that they are both dead.

The following week, in answer to a Dorothy Dix question in parliament, a National Party minister said that the anti-uranium demonstration on Hamilton No. 4 Wharf was the work of communists and an Arab sympathiser (presumably the person Domenico had threatened the week before) .

Soon after, Joh Bjelke Peterson announced “the day of the political street march is over”.

Venardos and other - Special Branch

Special Branch Officer Venardos (right) and another ( a reporter?) in King George Square prior to a street march circa 1977.

Special Branch lived up to Domenico’s promise, for the next 18 months they pointed out the leaders of the street marches so that we could be arrested time after time. They arrested a lot of people themselves. For example on 30 October 1978 Domenico and his fellow special branch officers arrested many in the street and in King George Square and the footpath nearby. When they did not do it themselves they would get units like Task force to do the job for them. I was one and the Mr. Monza referred to by Cacciola down at the wharves was another.

I was attacked by police in the square thrown in a paddy wagon, taken out, strangled and knocked out in the middle of the street, handcuffed in such a way that I lost feeling in part of my hand for three months, driven to Police headquarters, stripped and assaulted, paraded in front senior police, and finally taken out and imprisoned in Boggo Road jail under a falsely executed warrant issued by acting magistrate McKay. Similar arrests were made throughout that period until 1979.

In the end, exhausted by repression and division, the street marches ended in defeat for the extra-parliamentary opposition to the Bjelke-Peterson regime. It was perhaps the longest sustained period of organised protest in Australian history.

Of course, Aboriginal people have sustained their resistance to colonisation over a much longer period and at a far greater cost.

My point is the special branch had done its work.

Never forgive, never forget, never again.

Ian Curr
30 June 2009

References and Notes

  1. ‘Who’s Who in the Zoo’ – excerpt from The Second Father
  2. The Second Father is being promoted and launched by Brisbane Better Bookshops.
  3. Domenico Cacciola along with an Inspector Pitts was caught fabricating evidence in the SouthPort Betting Case described in this article ‘Corruption claim is eerily familiar’.
  4. A view from the inside : the true story of Domenico Cacciola /Domenico Cacciola, Carmelo Cacciola and Ben Robertson.St Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2009.1 v.AN: 43767454 ISBN: 9780702237126 (pbk.) $34.95ANL eng ANL contributed cataloguing Cacciola, Domenico. CIP entry.  Projected publication date: 200907 Cacciola, Domenico.Lewis, Terence. Herbert, Jack. Police Queensland Biography. Police corruption Queensland. Police administration Queensland.Misconduct in office Queensland. Political corruption Queensland. Queensland Politics and government 1976-1990. Cacciola, Carmelo.Robertson, Ben. 364.1323099
  5. Not Guilty
  6. Joh,  the Queensland Special Branch and other stories

5 responses to ““The Second Father” — a Brisbane Better Book?

  1. The killer cop and the murder of Donald Mackay

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  2. The 'Lanky Yank'

    ‘Protest marches are a thing of the past. Nobody, including the Communist Party or anyone else, is going to turn the streets of Brisbane into a forum. Protest groups need not bother applying for permits to stage marches because they won’t be granted … .’!
    — The Queensland Premier, Mr. BjelkePetersen, publicly announced the march ban on 4 September, 1977.

    In November 1977, I was arrested by a motorcycle policeman in the main street of Brisbane, Queen Street, after a small demonstration. At the moment of my arrest I was holding a video camera.

    I was carrying the camera as protection because like many others I had been arrested since the street march ban and had been charged with street march offences. I wanted to record arrests (mine or others) because of the widespread police practice of falsification of evidence.

    At that time I was not the only person filming or videotaping the demonstrations and the subsequent arrests.

    Yet another person involved was Stephen, the person Special Branch referred to as the ‘Lanky Yank’. Stephen took a large number of still photos of police especially undercover cops. For this, he was continually harassed and arrested over the next 3 or 4 years.

    People from Brisbane’s Women’s House and an independent filmmaker, Bruce Dickson, also videotaped the demonstrations. The video machines at that time were heavy and bulky. You wore the tape machine over your shoulder or preferably had someone carry it while you used the video camera. It was difficult to run or to move quickly with this apparatus no matter which method you used.

    Prior to my arrest a motor cycle policeman kept telling me to move along which I did. He repeated the direction a couple of times for me to move up Queen Street. This was a time before the streets of Brisbane were converted into one giant shopping mall (so that people could be lot fed more efficiently). In those days the traffic that still ran down Queens Street was regulated under a recently amended Queensland Traffic Act (1949) that gave corrupt police Commissioner Lewis the right to deny march permits.

    As I arrived outside the old Carlton Hotel, about 20 metres away from this policeman, I turned and filmed him from a distance. He was still wearing his motorcycle helmet with the visor up. My filming was all the provocation the traffic cop needed, he promptly ran up and arrested me.

    The Constable resented my videotaping him even though there was no law against it. In fact, on the evening news of that period, video and film was screened showing up to 1000 Queensland police blocking Brisbane’s streets in order to prevent street marches.

    On this occasion a large paddy wagon with one prisoner already inside had been parked nearby. As I was arrested I let the video apparatus slip to the ground and rested the camera beside it, still recording. On this occasion the police officer had failed to issue a direction as he was required under police instructions at the time to execute the arrest lawfully. He should have said:

    “I am directing to move in a southerly direction up Queen Street and if you do not do so I will arrest you and convey you to the Brisbane City Watchouse where you will be charged.”

    This failure was corroborated by the videotape that did record instead the shouts of the prisoner inside yelling:

    “Queensland Police State demand the right to demonstrate!”

    I was thrown into the paddy wagon and was welcomed into the van by a tall blonde haired, fit looking man wearing a pony tail and a scar on the left side of his face.

    Whenever asked about how he got the scar on his face this man would make up some fantastic story about how he had been slashed in a knife fight with some drug dealers in southern California. And he never answered this question the same way twice.

    The prisoner was wearing shorts and had welding burns on his legs.

    His name was Stephen (pronounced Stefan).

    Stephen chanted a bit more until the paddy wagon was driven off by a police sergeant with a bald head. I knew a little of Stephen from some of the demonstrations and meetings that I had attended since the street march ban in September 1977 only a few months earlier. Even though I did not know him very well our conversation was comradely — we were after all both street marchers opposed to Bjelke Petersen’s ban and his Government.

    It was not long before the paddy wagon had moved up Queen Street across George Street and North Quay and onto the Victoria Street Bridge.

    It was at this point that Stephen produced a large stainless steel pocket knife from his shorts pocket.

    This surprised me because I had not then or since seen anyone involved in the street marches produce such a weapon — let alone produce that weapon in a paddy wagon on the way to the watchouse immediately after being arrested on a street march offence.

    Stephen then asked me in his American accent if I wanted to bust out of the paddy wagon.

    Before I had a chance to answer he had inserted the blade of the knife in the lock on the doors at the back of the van and begun prising open the lock.

    One door sprung open, flapping in the breeze.

    We were half way across the Victoria Street bridge over the river.

    As it was midday on a Saturday in Brisbane in the 1970s there was little traffic.
    All I could see out the back was a motorcycle policeman following close behind the paddy wagon.

    The driver noticed in his rear vision mirror that the door was open and immediately slammed on his brakes. It was a large vehicle but pulled up quickly enough for Stephen and me to fall forward on the floor. We heard the thud of the police motorcycle behind running up the back of the paddy wagon.

    As the motorcycle was not travelling fast the policeman was not dislodged from his seat. He steadied the bike and took off his helmet red faced seeing that his motorcycle mudguard was bent in the collision.

    It was the same policeman who had arrested me only minutes before. He was following behind so as to formally charge me at the watchouse and to fill out the necessary documents.

    Stephen then jumped from the van and with mock concern announced his willingness to assist the policeman in distress:

    “Now, now, Officer, having trouble, I’ll just see if I can straighten that mudguard.”
    With that Stephen tried to pull the mudguard in line with the wheel to no avail. I climbed down from the van also and stood near my arresting officer. I smelt beer for the first time on his breath. When he arrested me he had his helmet on.

    The paddy wagon sergeant was quicker on the uptake than his motorcycle counterpart.

    He ran around the van and ordered both Stephen and me back inside.

    Once we were inside he jumped back in the driver’s seat and set sail for the South Brisbane Watchouse without closing the back doors. We yelled out:

    “What about the doors?”

    and with each yell he would jab his break pedal sending us flying forward.
    The City watchouse in those days stood hardly a minute away next to a small park, Manhattan Park, where Murris used to hang out.

    Today, in its place stands, a monument to Brisbane culture known as South bank with the Cultural Centre, the performing arts building, swimming pools and the Conservatorium of music. Upon our arrival the watchouse roller door was hoisted and the sergeant drove into the garage used by paddy wagons and police cars carrying prisoners.

    Barely had we climbed down from the back of the van when we were greeted by the on duty watchouse desk sergeant

    “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Stephen and Mr. Curr. And for what reason do you pay us the courtesy of a visit?”

    Stephen was charged with traffic offences and I with disobeying a lawful direction by the motorcycle cop.

    While my Bench charge sheet was being filled out I noticed Stephen surrender his stainless steel pocket knife to the genial watchouse sergeant.

    Ian Curr
    July 2009

    References
    Table of Arrests in Democratic Rights Movement 1977-1979

    No change in the ‘moonlight state’, says Tony Bellino

    CIVIL LIBERTIES IN QUEENSLAND – a nonviolent political campaign by Mark Plunkett & Ralph Summy

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  3. 'Review by John Birmingham'

    ‘The Second Father’ by Mick Cacciola

    Domenico Cacciola was a cop. A good cop in a bad place at the wrong time.

    The eldest of four boys, he chafed against the expectation that he should join his father in the family fruit shop – a decent but demanding small business that provided for the Cacciola clan after they left war-torn Sicily and landed at Newstead Wharf in Brisbane on May 27, 1954.

    Mick – as he became known locally – can’t exactly recall why he wandered up to the police barracks on Petrie Terrace and lodged an application to join the force all the way back in 1965. A great uncle back in the old country had been a senior police officer, but there was no long family tradition of fighting crime – of which Sicily, with it’s mafia clans, had an elegant sufficiency.
    In Brisbane, he had a hell of a time of it, naturally, being a wog, and every insult and racist barb that had been heaped upon him as a schoolboy and a teenager returned with three-fold vehemence as he applied himself to his training. On his graduation day he was, he says, “as happy as I would ever be serving in the Queensland police force”.

    It’s not an exaggeration. Because of his Sicilian background, Mick Cacciola was instantly marked by senior members of the Queensland force for use as an undercover operative against illegal gaming and sly grogging within the migrant community. Not only did this set him against his own people – a contradiction he dealt with by thinking of himself as Australian, not Sicilian – but it also brought the unwanted attention of those corrupt cops working as an organised criminal gang inside the Queensland police force to protect the thriving, multimillion-dollar black market in SP bookmaking, prostitution, unlicensed booze and, eventually, drugs.

    Mick Cacciola (whom I had the privilege of talking to for an hour at the weekend in the village of Cooroy at the Reality Bites nonfiction literary festival) spent much of his career as a policeman going head-to-head with some of the most vicious, venal, corrupt and despicable human beings you could ever hope not to meet. Most of them in uniform. Many of them his superior officers. His name was blackened, his honor traduced and his life at times hung in the balance.

    But he never stood down from a confrontation. Even after one of the worst of the bent and toxic criminals then serving in uniform, Terry Lewis, was made commissioner. Mick was vindicated in the end, of course, while many of those who tormented him throughout his career were themselves disgraced and finally imprisoned. Not all of them though. Some of the good, honest men with whom he served were broken, and went to their graves not knowing that one day some measure of justice at least would be done.

    I don’t often write about books in my columns because Hunter S. Thompson once said that columnists who start writing about something they’ve read, or even worse about their families, are going out the door backwards, fast. But I’m going to make an exception today for Mick Cacciola. He did right by us every day he wore that uniform, even surrounded as he was by men intent on doing wrong. The least we could do to show some respect and appreciation is listen to his story.

    The Second Father is published by UQP and should be available pretty much everywhere.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/blogs/blunt-instrument/the-good-cops-story-of-a-very-bad-state-20100803-113lw.html#ixzz2tYJMpgW7

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  4. 'Hunter S Thompson's advice'

    Perhaps John Bermingham should have taken Hunter S Thompson’s advice about writing about books – given the review’s lack of understanding of the role of the Special Branch and the part Domenico Cacciola played in it.

    Ian Curr
    18 Feb 2014

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  5. cops, lies and tasers

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