Wanganui's gang patch ban is working as it was intended to, and in spite of those who criticised it as an attack on civil liberties, or in Metiria Turei's case, as racist. That's why we weren't in the least bit surprised to read this morning's Dom-Post, and see that other towns are cities are following suit - read on:
More than a dozen councils want to follow the lead of Whanganui and outlaw gang patches and colours.
Masterton police are the latest to approach council leaders, asking for a legal protection to crack down on gangs flexing their muscles in the town centre.
Senior Sergeant Warwick Burr said that, since its bylaw was introduced last year, Whanganui had been able to control the level of intimidation by gangs.
"A bylaw is not a one-stop solve all things, but it does, to me, deflate their potential to intimidate. Banning a gang patch isn't going to stop criminal behaviour but what it does do is stop the open intimidation, particularly on the average member of the public, as they are walking down the road on a day-to-day basis doing their own thing."
Fifteen councils, through Local Government New Zealand, have approached Local Government Minister Rodney Hide to ask for changes within the Local Government Amendment Bill that would sidestep the Bill of Rights and allow all councils to invoke a bylaw without legislation being required. The others include Kapiti Coast, Hastings, Palmerston North, Whakatane and Timaru district councils.
Michael Laws and Whanganui MP Chester Borrows took a lot of heat over the Gang Insignia Act, but their persevereance was rewarded with legislation that is working and working well in Wanganui. We applaud both men for their leadership, and for their efforts to make Wanganui a safer place. Let's hope now that Rodney Hide can be persuaded to get on board and commission legislation to enable other councils to do likewise.
We don't have to sit meekly and lets gangs take control of our towns and cities. Michael Laws and Chester Borrows have proved that a local MP and local government can work effectively together for the benefit of all; all except the gangs, who now know that their presence in Wanganui is not welcomed.