An early starter for the most ridiculous policy of the New Government has emerged. Mark Mitchell has proposed that gang members be required to apply foundation to their faces to hide gang insignia tatoos before going out in public.
From Radio New Zealand:
National’s police spokesperson says the party may ban gang facial tattoos if its planned ban on gang patches does not work.
Mark Mitchell, expected to be the next police minister, told Checkpoint they will be made to apply foundation when they wake up in the morning or face arrest.
The party is also promising to allow police to search suspected gang members, their vehicles and properties without warrants, and issue dispersal notices banning gang members from talking to one others.
Mitchell said gang activity would also be banned on social media.
Recent incidents in Opotoki has provided Mitchell with the opportunity to froth from his mouth. Again from RNZ:
“We know that there’s gang tensions in Ōpōtiki. We know that there was a gang-related homicide there a couple of months ago and the Mongrel Mob turned up and took the town under siege,” Mitchell told Checkpoint on Wednesday.
“The police need to have proactive tools that they can get out there and they can stop and turn over gang members, and search them and search their vehicles and take firearms – not wait for a 20-year-old female to be shot in a drive-by shooting or for someone’s home to be shot up by gangs and drive-by shootings.”
After the latest shooting, police were granted additional search powers through the Criminal Activity Intervention Legislation Act (CAIL). The temporary warrant enabled police to freely search vehicles and properties owned by suspected gang members.
While police are able to get urgent warrants “in a matter of hours”, he said that was “reactive” – and police needed to be proactive. The current firearms prohibition laws were “very weak”, Mitchell said, and “meaningless”.
My head hurt trying to understand this. Because unless warrants gave police the ability to foresee future criminal activity the power to search without warrant will not stop random shootings. Unless they plan to stop and search pretty well all cars carrying gang members. In which case they may prefer that gang members actually display their patches and don’t apply foundation to their gang insignia so they can be readily identified.
When they were last in power they came up with a not dissimilar proposal which became the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Act 2013.
During the debate on the bill Andrew Little said this:
I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill and to add my voice to those who say this is a complete waste of our time. This is a bill for the inadequate and, frankly, the flaccid, and the armchair toughies who sit back in the comfort of places like this to talk at length about the horror of the gangs without actually wanting to do anything meaningful about it. This will do nothing. This does nothing. It is cosmetic. It is literally cosmetic. It is about dealing with the outward appearance of a gang member. It does nothing about the underlying issues and realities of gangs.”
His comments are just as relevant now.
I am sure that if enacted the legislation would find its way before the courts where it would be argued that these restrictions were in breach of rights of freedom of expression and that the restrictions could not be justified in a free and democratic society.
But I suspect this will not affect National’s enthusiasm for the proposal. They just want to stir up hatred and more than a little frothing at the mouth.