Mayor slams Sharples' gangs message as "appeasing the crims" - 15/04/2008Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws today slammed the reported comments of Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples on supporting gangs to combat youth violence as "yet more liberal appeasement of crims and cons".
The Maori Party co-leader had singled out Wanganui's gang patch prohibition bill as the wrong policy in dealing with gangs at a family violence conference in Auckland.
"Dr Sharples' remarks are ill-founded, illogical and smack of appeasing crime and criminals. Gangs are petty terrorists and just because the majority may be brown does not excuse their illegal and violent methods."
Mayor Laws said that the Wanganui community "has devised its own local solution to a local problem – and stopping gangs from freely marketing themselves in public places is one of those solutions. We don't need an indigenous version of Neville Chamberlain lecturing us – gangs are an insidious menace to all law-abiding Kiwis, Maori or non-Maori".
The gang patch prohibition bill has been introduced to Parliament on behalf of the Wanganui District Council by Whanganui MP Chester Borrows. A district-wide referendum in 2006 found strong support for the proposed legislation.
"The Jhia Te Tua murder trial reminds us that we are not dealing with benign organisations. They are anti-social, criminal groups who contribute nothing to our community. They are also the country's prime manufacturers and retailers of illegal drugs."
Mayor Laws said that the passage of Manukau City’s anti-graffiti bill through Parliament – along with Wanganui's anti-gang bill – showed that local communities "are taking responsibility for local problems and devising local solutions. Ironically, that was Dr Sharples' other message yesterday and now he is saying he does not like such independence".