Mob rule.

It is creeping upon us.

The latest example is the damage of headstones in a Hastings cemetery after Mongrel Mob members attended a tangi.

Banning gang patches in cemeteries is a futile exercise unless some sort of trained hit squad is set up to enforce the ban.

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Banning patches is a fine sentiment to express publicly but if you are dealing with people who damage headstones in graveyards, they probably aren't going to whip their leathers off at the request of a librarian.

A few weeks ago a gang member allegedly took their life in a public reserve. Two trees were then cut down, in the vicinity of the person's death.

Napier City Council publicly denounced the vandalism before they were informed of the circumstances. The challenge the council then faced, was dealing sensitively with the vandals while at the same time conveying that it's not okay to go around destroying public property.

Go back a few months, when the Mob took over Te Mata Peak, barking and spraying their obscene vernacular about, to mark their territory. More mob rule.

New Zealand's leading gang expert, Jarrod Gilbert, a senior lecturer at Canterbury University, says it is the behaviour, not the clothing, which needs to be policed.
He is right.

But how? It seems gangs are pushing the public's buttons right now, which is only going to make the public demand more accountability from police and politicians. Can they deliver?

Not alone they can't. Social issues that make gangs viable options for lost souls need to be dealt with, along with criminal activity that keeps their illicit business going.

Kids in families that have given them a strong sense of identity and culture don't end up in gangs. Gangs that are neutered by police investigations and prosecutions are unable to offer a sense of family.

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These two observations bookend a complex problem in between.

Let's start hearing more from our local body candidates - not just the mayoral ones - about what they think, because banning gang patches is a band aid on a festering sore, and not a very good one at that.