Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Gang patches banned

The Wanganui District Council have recently put through a ban on gang patches (with a $2000 fine if you're caught). While the intent behind this ban is good, I think the idea has bad written all over it.

As Dan was commenting yesterday, if you don't let gangs wear patches, they'll only find some other way of identifying themselves.

The ban came into force yesterday — and a small protest was organised in Wanganui. Civil rights protesters turned up, as well as some gang members. And instead of patches, all the Black Power members were wearing blue hats and t-shirts; all of the Mongrel Mob guys were wearing red hoodies.

Gangs will always find some way to identify themselves. Imagine if this ban continues, and the Wanganui Black Power members all start wearing blue t-shirts as an alternative. Does that mean anyone wearing a blue t-shirt is going to be seen as a Black Power member?

Or is the Council then going to ban blue t-shirts?

As someone who doesn't know any gang members, I think gang patches are a great idea. They tell me who I need to walk carefully around. You can take away the patches, but it won't change anyone's behaviour.

The only benefit I can see is a potential reduction in fights. But if all the gang members just start wearing, for example, a certain colour t-shirt — won't that end up increasing the number of fights? And, probably, reducing the number of colours people feel safe wearing.

Plus, there is the whole freedom of speech thing. I can understand hoodies not being allowed in some places — it's always nice when security cameras can see people's faces — but a gang patch ban just seems ridiculous.

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