Mitchell on gang patch bill

speaking on Todd McClay’s bill to prohibit being worn inside government buildings:

I would just like to talk about one of my first contacts with gangs. It was as a police dog handler working in Rotorua. For those who have lived in Rotorua, who are either in the police or even just as residents and members of the community, will be very aware of the old Mongrel Mob headquarters on Sala Street. When I first started there we had two young ladies come to the police station obviously in a terribly distressed state, and, in fact, one of them probably to this day has not recovered from what she had to endure at the hands of the Mongrel Mob at their pad on Sala Street. What had happened to them is that the Mongrel Mob had two young prospects and one of them was her cousin. As part of their initiation, as part of their pathway towards earning a gang patch, they had been instructed to entice these two young girls—15 and 16—down to the gang pad. Once they got them down there, they then proceeded to put them on what the gang members called the block, and they were gang-raped by patched gang members and the prospects were forced or encouraged to rape them also. So I just want to be very clear that when we are in this House and we are talking about gang patches, we actually understand clearly what a gang patch means and what it signifies. What it means is that when you see a gang member walking around patched up with a gang patch on, it is telling you, it is telling us, the rest of the people in the community, that they have committed crimes against us, and that they have probably committed violent crimes against us.

Gang patches are a form on intimidation. Now I didn’t support the law change for Wanganui District Council as that sought to prohibit patches in public anywhere – and that goes too far. But I think the Government has every right to ban them in buildings such as WINZ offices and courts.

Mr Goff got up and said that currently there are laws available to deal with gang members who decide to wear their patches and intimidate people. He quoted the Trespass Act . Well, what happens with the Trespass Act is that someone has to trespass a gang member. I am telling you now that people are intimidated. Who is going to stand up and say: “I am going to take a step and I am going to trespass someone.”? We are removing that from them. We are removing the intimidation and fear from that person with this piece of legislation.

I’d rather not be the person who has to trespass a gang member to their face.

There is one submission that I do want to refer back to. It was made by Jacob Te Kurapa from the Murupara Area School . Murupara, of course, is in Mr McClay’s electorate. Murupara has got social issues that it is constantly facing and tackling. It has a big gang presence down there with the Black Power , the Tribesmen , the Mongrel Mob . In his submission he said: “Children and students do not need to see gang insignia plastered about our school they need to be protected from it.

Gang patches should have no place in schools.

National, ACT, United Future and NZ First voted for the bill’s second reading. Labour, Greens, Maori and Mana voted against – defending the right of gang members to wear patches in schools etc.

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