Mafia history ‘can’t be ignored’

Griffith mayor John Dal Broi
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi

GRIFFITH council has whitewashed history by failing to document the city’s significant Mafia past in its Centenary booklet, a prominent community figure believes.

It comes as Griffith this year celebrates 100 years since it was proclaimed on August 4,1916. 

To mark the occasion, organisers have compiled a souvenir booklet detailing Griffith’s history. 

But among the 30-plus-page publication, there is no mention of the city’s deep links with the Calabrian Mafia, responsible for the 1977 murder of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay in Griffith. 

It is a move that Griffith Community and Development Council vice president Lance Perry said undermined everything that characterised the city.

"Our dark past has to be at least mentioned; it's what everyone associates Griffith with,” Mr Perry said.

"If you ignore the past, it will re-happen again in the future.

“We have to face up to this as a community. The Mafia era was part of Griffith's history, everyone knows that.

"What's the point of hiding it?"

Griffith mayor John Dal Broi defended the move by stating the Mafia played only a minor role in the city’s history, despite being the subject of the popular Underbelly series and countless books. 

“It is not a huge thing,” Cr Dal Broi said.

“It’s a small thing. 

“You don’t want to brandish the whole community because 99 per cent of the community are good people.”

In 2013, a push to build a crime museum in Griffith was howled down by political leaders.

Cr Dal Broi denied the museum not coming to fruition and not mentioning the Mafia in the booklet were deliberate attempts to ignore history. 

“We are not hiding from the fact these incidents happened, but things happened right across the state,” he said.

“We are not the only community that has been involved with marijuana.

“There may have been incidents of Mafia many years ago, but the huge majority of people want to get on with their lives.”

A whole section of the centenary booklet is dedicated to Mr Mackay. Cr Dal Broi defended the decision to not mention the links with Mafia and instead focus on the good work of Mr Mackay. 

“He was a pioneer and anyone who doesn’t know him but have been living under a cabbage leaf,” he said.