Police impotently stood back and watched as a Mongrel Mob funeral procession consisting of more than 100 cars and motorbikes travelled to a gang member’s burial at Whenua Tapu cemetery, north of Porirua, in a brazen contravention of Covid-19 rules.
A video on Stuff showed the “mourners” occupying all three northbound lanes of the motorway. Two illegally stood on the back of the ute carrying the coffin. Others hung out of car windows. There were repeated bleeps on the Stuff video as motorcyclists passed beneath an overbridge, indicating they were shouting obscenities at the camera.
The procession didn’t take a direct route. It started at Cannons Creek, in Porirua East, and wound its way through Waitangirua, Ascot Park and distant Titahi Bay - the latter a diversion that would have taken the convoy through the heart of Porirua - before heading north. In other words gang members took an extravagantly roundabout route with the presumed intention of creating maximum disruption.
It was impossible to regard the funeral as anything other than a deliberate act of provocation - a taunt to the police by a criminal organisation confident that it can break laws with impunity. It was not so much a display of grief as a triumphal show of strength.
And the enforcers of the law meekly complied. Police merely “monitored” the funeral. Stuff quoted a spokeswoman as saying resources were pulled from across the region to “help” with the event.
“Help”? Did she really say that? Good grief. Things are even worse than we thought.
Stuff earlier quoted Inspector Nick Thom, Kapiti-Mana crime prevention manager, as warning that the public should expect significant traffic disruption. He said the police respected the mourners’ wish to grieve and he lamely urged the gang to be considerate to other road users. Fat chance.
Thom has the wrong job title. It should be crime facilitation manager. His comments indicated the police knew exactly what was in store. By allowing the procession to proceed, they were effectively accessories in the commission of multiple law breaches.
It was the third such display of gang strength, under the pretext of mourning, in a matter of weeks. Alert Level 2 guidelines stipulate no more than 100 attendees at funerals and require organisers to record the names and contact details of attendees (yeah, right) in case contact tracing might be necessary, but gangs have a nod-and-wink exemption despite being implicated in the spread of Covid-19 in Auckland, Northland and the Waikato.
National MP Simeon Brown pointed out that instead of insisting the Mob obey the law, police put the onus on the public to avoid parts of Porirua. This gives new meaning to the term “copout” and will inevitably lead people to wonder whose side the police are on. Brown called it “another example of why gangs feel they are above the law under this soft-on-crime Labour government, while law-abiding Kiwis are told to stay out of their way”.
The rule of law, already fragile and exercised highly selectively, has taken another damaging hit – as has public confidence in the police.
Footnote: The original version of this post included a second item about a judicial appointment which on further consideration (and for perfectly sound reasons) I subsequently decided to delete.