Saturday, 16 January 2010

There is the law and then there is

The current Premier of South Australia likes to regard himself as "tough on law and order". To that end he and his colleagues enacted what is commonly called "the bikie legislation". This is legislation designed to restrict contact between and with members of motorcycle gangs. It is meant to curb the criminal activities of groups like the "Hell's Angels" and the "Finks" and other similar groups.
I have no problem with curbing criminal activities but I do have a problem with the legislation.
The legislation has been written in such a way that, potentially, anyone who has contact with a member of a motorcycle gang is breaking the law.
Now obviously there have to be exceptions. Right? Wrong. I do not know what happens when a bikie goes into a bank or needs to see a doctor or a dentist or goes to work. Presumably the law covers such things.
Yesterday morning there were media reports of a STAR force invasion of the Women and Children's Hospital and the father of a new born baby was removed. According to media reports he had done nothing wrong and there was no warrant out for his arrest but he has a violent criminal history and so they went in with guns and removed him. No doubt there is more to the story but, even allowing for that, it does seem a little excessive.
What happened to me yesterday was also excessive. I was about to go into the library when I was stopped by a large, rough looking character - beard, tattoos, earrings and a provocative logo on his t-shirt. Of all things he wanted to know where the little memorial garden was. This is a "scented" garden with braille labels in honour of the local war service men and women. "I never been out here before but me Dad always said to have a gander because of his mate". Fair enough.
I did what I thought was the right thing and I took him around to the other side of the library and showed him where it was. Turns out it was the wrong thing.
I went back to lock my tricycle up at the library and, as I was doing so, I found myself confronted by a couple of cops. They have been sitting in a patrol car not far away. They accuse me of illegal contact.
With gritted teeth I explain politely that I had shown him where the garden was. That, they tell me, is beside the point. I should not speak to such people. They are telling me this for my own safety.
I am not an idiot. There were plenty of people going in and out of the library and the service station next door. I stayed on my tricycle and rode around - and I am hardly an attractive young kitten in provocatively short shorts and a skimpy top.
It is clear they have nothing better to do with their time. I suspect they are supposed to be doing something they do not want to do. It is much easier to have a go at me.
"You know him do you?" I ask.
No, they do not know him. That is not the point. It is illegal to make contact with members of motor-cycle gang members and they are there to enforce the law.
I cannot resist asking, "If you do not know him how do you know he is the member of a motor-cycle gang?"
They have no answer to that. I walk into the library. I definitely have a problem with this legislation.


Anonymous said...

I think we need a lot of our police force sitting around watching and speaking to us when we speak to any one who remotely resembles a bikie, then perhaps more of us will understand just how bad the legislation is!
A friend lives next door to a bikies holiday house, and puts the bin in for them earning her a box of chocolates occasionally! Breaking the law! Scary stuff!
Judy B

catdownunder said...

Good grief Judy - better warn your friend - living next door??? Bound to have illegal contact. Accept the occasional box of chocolates???No, no, no! Cripes mate you might be accused of being neighbourly!

Rachel Fenton said...

You see I thought "illegal contact" was something else altogether - now I know ;)

So they watched you harassing this poor bikie member? - Life's too short for this nonsense - please tell me you pulled a wheelie as you burned some rubber out-a-there!

(Thanks for the nudge - got a first draft of a chapter!)

catdownunder said... has possibilities Rachel but if I used it I would be accused of consorting with the enemy I suppose!