POLICE have come under fire for a “shock and awe” raid on a bikie clubhouse in Gunnedah last week, with critics claiming it was heavy-handed.
Armed with weapons, bulletproof vests, helmets and hogties, the Strike Force Raptor squad stormed the Gladiators clubhouse on Friday, combing the premises and seizing seven truckloads of illegal alcohol and other belongings.
No drugs were seized in the raid and no club members have been charged at this stage.
The scale of the operation has sparked accusations police were unfairly targeting club members.
Australian Motorcycle Council executive member Eva Cripps said police were pandering to political hysteria, rather than any criminal reality.
“This is about spreading propaganda to suit the government’s purpose, not focusing on the real criminal activity,” Ms Cripps said.
“Bikers are responsible for less than 1 per cent of crime in this country.
“As far as I can see, the only person arrested was a man from a charitable service club and no Gladiators were arrested at all.
“It is the duty of the police to tackle real crime, not perceptions based on government propaganda dressed up as fact.” She claimed there was “no more of a criminal element in outlaw motorcycle clubs than in any other group in society”.
Posters to The Leader’s Facebook page also condemned the scale of the raid.
“When was the last time there was bikie trouble in Gunnedah; sorry but sounds a bit over-zealous to me,” Rhonda Keegan said.
But Oxley Inspector Jeff Budd said police made no apologies for targeting a group that openly boasts of being “above the law”.
“By wearing the one percenter patch, they’re acknowledging they have a criminal connection,” Inspector Budd said.
“This OMCG was running an illegal club; they were selling alcohol to people illegally.
“They were just about to sell a huge amount of grog to people on their Poker Run.
“We know of sexual assaults in the past at that clubhouse and we know of drug deals.
“People complain there were no arrests made and it was a waste of police resources but I am confident there will be some type of prosecution at the end of it.”
He said he respected the Gladiators’ right to have a clubhouse, as long as it operated within the law.