Dark in Different Ways is set against a searing backdrop of real-life events.
One night in February 2004, a 17-year-old Aboriginal boy known as T.J Hickey was cycling to his mother’s in Redfern, Sydney. He never made it. Along the way, he lost control of the bike and crashed into a railway fence, where he was impaled on spikes. How this happened remains a mystery to this day. But it quickly emerged that a police patrol car had been in the vicinity.
In a city marked by racial discrimination and police corruption, this proved incendiary. The local Aboriginal community were convinced T.J had been chased by police. A vigil held for him the next day quickly descended into the worst race riot in Sydney’s history. Police were attacked by rampaging, alienated youths, and the local railway station was set alight. But the real damage was so much deeper.
Read J.D Patterson’s own account of the Redfern riot here.