The leader of Ngaruawahia's Tribal Huk gang, Jamie Pink, seems an interesting bloke. He told meth dealers to get out of town by a certain hour or, without having to put into words, cop the consequences. A couple years ago he got his gang making sandwiches for schools in low-income areas.
He comes across in video interviews as what some Kiwis would call hard case. (I think hardly anyone has used that term for a couple of decades. But I'm partly old school when it comes to language, as I am a believer in sometimes a "local solution.") His anger is at the scourge of meth - P - use in his tiny township. Several years ago, on hearing his 12-year-old daughter had been offered P, Mr Pink went round to the dealer's house and took to it with a sledgehammer. We can presume they've long since departed.
We can applaud the sandwich-making efforts, just as long as they kept it up. Let's assume the gang has. The vigilante stuff of giving meth dealers a deadline to get out of town I personally applaud. Liberals won't. I'm old school on certain situations and drugs being sold to school children is one.
About 30 years ago some old mates I grew up with in Rotorua took the law into their own hands. A gang had moved into their pub and were assaulting local patrons in the toilets and generally making a nuisance of themselves. So the good guys made a plan. On a pre-arranged signal, a family of tough brothers and their equally tough rugby team-mates attacked. Every gang member got knocked over. They were told never to come back and they didn't. No cops required. Problem solved. However, in principle, vigilantism goes against the rules of civilised behaviour and can be condoned only in exceptional circumstances.
Drug use in itself makes for apathetic human beings. If an escape, then it's to hell. If for fun, then users are shallow, stupid and lazy of thinking. Apparently P makes you feel super confident, super everything. And when you come down, it's a bit like a kid being denied finishing the ice-cream he's craved for weeks: He makes merry hell till his state of ecstasy is reinstated.
The meth scourge is in near every low-income area in the country. Maori abuse it disproportionally. And just as importantly, the drug abuses users right back. Drugs and crime go hand in hand. The Philippines president has waged war on the drug epidemic in his country, his police force have killed at least 4000 since the edict was issued. That's a good thing. But abuse of political power is not. The rock and a hard place this one.
When crime gains a foothold in any community - or country, for that matter - in places like Mexico where homicides directly related to drug wars were a staggering 164,000, between 2007-14. (Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same period were 103,000.) Then drugs become war against society. Why wouldn't people stand up to it while they still can?
The Mafia in Italy has long had control of the entire country. Businesses, each and every citizen, banks, government, councils 'contribute' to Mafia revenue in a myriad of unofficial means of tithing, taxing, stealing. They have their teeth in every major construction project, own every grave plot - stop.
This entire column is not near enough to describe their evil reach. Suffice to say that, when you give criminals the proverbial inch, they move into your house. So isn't vigilantism the same? Yes. I was only condoning it in certain situations.
Let's mention another gang leader, Eugene Ryder, of Wellington's Black Power. If you ever wanted an articulate, pleasant-faced spokesperson, then this man is it. His gang have organised a film festival. "To show we're not what people think we are." Pretty damn good start, bro. The same gang banned meth use in their organisation a couple of years ago.
Ryder is a facially tattooed gang leader who would surely have been in the arts had he been raised in a middle-class home. Or he might have been a political leader. A writer. Architect. Film director. Television producer. Stay on the credit side of the social ledger, boys. You're doing all right.