Gary Meyerhoff, long-time activist and founder of the Network Against Prohibition (NAP), died from an AIDS-related illness on October 7. A tireless campaigner for the rights all those who slipped through society's cracks, Meyerhoff was an optimist and not afraid to push the limits. He organised around issues and with sections of society that other activists usually put in the too-hard basket.
When I met Meyerhoff in 2002, he had already been told that he had only 12 months to live. Over the next five years, he was involved in numerous social justice campaigns and advocacy work, including founding NAP, which campaigns against the Northern Territory government's draconian law-and-order and drug policies.
Meyerhoff was best known for some of NAP's more outrageous stunts, such as "invading" parliament during an anti-drug law protest, organising the Darwin Syringe Festival and standing outside a police conference with a pig head on a platter.
He was involved in organising dozens of "smoke-ins" in central Darwin, not only to protest the drug laws, but also to provide free food, music and a rare safe space from racism and police harassment for Darwin's itinerant population.
Inevitably, Meyerhoff's blatant fist up to the state led to numerous charges, court appearances, police harassment and violence. At the time of his death he was on bail appealing a five-month sentence for "deliberately disturbing the legislative assembly". He faced the law, outside and inside the courts, with comical contempt and I am happy to say that they never caught him alive.
Meyerhoff was an inspiration — a trouble-maker who made us step out of our comfort zones. We are better activists and stronger people for having known him. He will be sorely missed.
"Our tactic is to send niggers and longhair scum invading white middle-class homes, fucking on the living room floor, crashing on the chandeliers, spewing sperm on the Jesus pictures, breaking the furniture and smashing Sunday school napalm-blood Amerika forever.
"We will do whatever is forbidden.
"We will outrage Amerika until the bourgeoisie dies of apoplexy.
"We will turn Amerika's colleges into nudist camps.
"We will find new ways of living together and raising our kids." — Jerry Rubin, founder of the YIPPIES and Gary Meyerhoff's inspiration.