Gang patch ban won't work, says Turia
24 March 2006
By BRITTON BROUN
Banning gang patches will not work and ignores the real causes behind gang clashes, Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia says.
Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws' bylaw banning the patches was endorsed by the Wanganui City Council's strategy committee last night and is set to go for public consultation.
The bylaw will ban gang patches in the central city and other public places, including shopping centres, parks and beaches.
Mongrel Mob chief Randall Nahona would not comment on the law but his wife had been speaking to Mrs Turia, who said the focus on gang patches and colours missed the real problem.
"I'm not shifting the blame to Laws, all he is doing is politicking," Mrs Turia said. "He's picked the most visible thing but there are deeper underlying issues that society doesn't know how to cope with."
She said gang criminality and violence were linked to issues of unemployment, poverty, alcohol and drugs.
"Banning patches is not going to make one iota of difference. It's not going to alter their behaviour, it's not going to change the situation – gang members still know one another."
AdvertisementAdvertisementThough there was a huge reaction to the clash between Hell's Angels and Mongrel Mob members earlier this month, Mrs Turia said she did not believe the wider Wanganui community was under threat. She said the real problem was violence in general, which needed to be looked at before people started singling out gangs.
"We react when gang violence rears its head but do we have the same reaction if our next door neighbour is violent. Every one of us could do something today to reduce violence, we all need to take responsibility."
Mr Laws said the bylaw expressed the wishes of residents and had national support in a poll on the Stuff website.
Mrs Turia had the opportunity to do something about Maori underachievement and had failed to achieve anything, he said.
"When she gets into power and does something constructive, we'll start listening to her."
Denis O'Reilly, a lifelong Black Power member and former head of a Government employment agency, said banning tactics had proven ineffective.
"What we have tried since the mid-90s, all it's done is up gang membership and gang numbers in prison."