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Goodness me, the National government elect haven't hasn't even parked its buns around the cabinet table yet and some gang leaders are already having a wah about the proposed legislation around gangs and gang membership.
Waikato mongrel Mob Kingdom leader, often in the news, Sonny Fatupaito said the new National government will be devastating to gangs. Well, yes, Sonny, I think you'll find that one of the reasons why Labour was roundly rejected at the polls last Saturday, and one of the reasons why half the electorate went right was precisely because National has measures in place to tackle the gangs.
National has warned repeatedly in the election campaign that if you choose to remain in gangs peddling drugs and misery in our communities, life will be a lot more difficult under a National-led government.
Mark Mitchell, National’s Police minister-in-waiting offered an olive branch too. At the same time he was warning, he said there is a simple solution - leave the gangs at once. National will work with and support any gang members, especially those with families, who wish to leave and rejoin society. The door is open to the prodigal sons. People I was talking with this week and you may have heard them, who live in previously solid Labour electorates, said yes, the lockdown contributed to their swing to the right, but it was also the flagrant and blatant criminal activity, especially in Auckland that swayed them right.
Here's just some news stories:
Open gang warfare and brazen shootings in Auckland saw recorded gun crime spike during a single month in the city, with an average of more than three per day. There were 109 gun crimes in May, according to figures supplied by the police under the Official Information Act. The reduction, because it had just started to drop off, is thanks in part to an uneasy truce prevailing between two formerly allied gangs who locked horns in an explosion of public conflict that contributed to the downfall of a police minister.
Another story, drive-by shootings more than doubled at the height of inter-gang conflict between the Tribesmen and Killer Beez last year. An official Intelligence Report found gang members got the target house wrong several times, putting civilians in the firing line. The Gang Intelligence Centre found there were thirty reported drive-by shootings of individuals, vehicles or properties, up 17 more than the previous quarter. There were 30 during quarter two of 2022. Of those shootings, there were multiple instances where mistaken addresses, housing people who were not gang members were targeted. Which shows that the Gang Intelligence Centre might need to rename itself, because not a lot of intelligence shown by the gangs if they can't get the right house.
Another comment from people in West Auckland. People were saying they're getting fed up with the ram raids, the shootings, it feels lawless. We know it's not just in West Auckland, it just shows you how widespread gangs are and that is what is scary for people. Another one - a brother of a man killed in a double shooting in South Auckland believes he died as a result of gang activity gone wrong. 'Hame' Tu'uheava, aged 28, was found dead next to a seriously injured wife, Mele, who's 25, in Mangere. They leave an 8-year-old son.
I could go on and on and on. I restricted the search to this year and last year. So many stories.
I know that gangs will always be around. There are people who will be drawn to the gang lifestyle. There are people who have been in gangs and will be gangs forever. It's multi-generational. But for the love of all that is holy, let's not make it easy for them to do criminal business.
If you want to have a job, and many do, and belong to a gang and not commit crime - fill your boots! But if you are engaging in criminal activity, and many are, at least have the community put up a token show of protest. You should have to earn a seat at the table, not be given one by a government focused on policing by consent. Fair enough, they tried a different way of policing. You know, it might have worked. It didn't. The gangs saw the conciliatory measures by authorities as weaknesses and exploited them.
Again, I know not all gang members are criminals. Just as not all people who vote for right leaning parties are racist, anti-gay, anti-trans, filthy rich swine out to suck the marrow out of the downtrodden and the dispossessed. They're just people who are fed up.
We've all become crude reductionists in the way we stereotype anyone who doesn't share our point of view. There needs to be a bit of nuance, I get that. But the resources that have been sucked up while gangs play out their petty macho rivalries and protect their highly worthwhile patches and by patches, I mean the patches where they do business, has been immense. The hospital resources, the police resources, the amount of lost productivity while roads are closed off and diverted. While they play out their… I don't know what kind of movie they're playing in their mind.
It would be nice, for a while, if people could go about their business without the criminal element within gangs interfering in their day-to-day life.
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