Gang laws dependent on mode of transport? Really?

There’s a lot about it in the news today following the fatal gang attack at the QANTAS terminal at Sydney airport, and who could object to generally tightening up laws against gang activity when not only the lawlessness but violence that puts the general public at risk is the gangs’ motif?

I can see why being able to outlaw a particular association as a criminal gang could be a useful tool in disrupting gang activity so that they are more likely to be apprehended, but unless the media is being spectacularly wrongfooted in their reporting today, it really does appear that laws are being mooted with respect to criminal activity that are going to be different from other laws depending upon the suspects’ vehicle(s) of choice. What does it matter whether a gangster is wearing a leather jacket and riding a Hog or wearing a hipster outfit and riding a Segway?

Segway Gang - obviously up to no good

Segway Gang - obviously up to no good (originally uploaded by pad-u-like)

The New South Wales premier Nathan Rees is under pressure to respond to yesterday’s deadly brawl at Sydney airport by strengthening the laws relating to bikie gangs.
Rees said the government was considering adopting legislation against biker gangs already in place in South Australia state, which has been described as among the toughest in the world.

Under the laws, the authorities can outlaw biker gangs and make membership of specific groups a crime.

“Our laws allow us to proscribe criminal bikie gangs the same way we do terrorist groups,” South Australian Premier Mike Rann said, urging the legislation be adopted nationwide.
The West Australian:
An outraged South Australian Premier Mike Rann wants his state’s anti-bikie laws put on the national agenda.

Mr Rann says the fatal bikie bashing at Sydney Airport is the exact reason why his state’s anti-bikie laws must be discussed at the next Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

The NSW Police’s immediate response, to increase the numbers of officers in their gang squad in response to a recent escalation in turf wars between bikie gangs, seems a more appropriate response – target the illegal behaviour, not what the perpetrators are driving.

Note the biker/bikie confusion in the AFP article. Bikies are outsiders who roam in packs. Some of them run drugs and protection rackets. Bikers are average working people who ride around in social groups. Most of them pay rates and taxes. What are the odds, do ya reckon, that a whole heap of law-abiding bikers are yet again about to be tarred with the bikie brush?

Categories: law & order, media, violence

16 replies

  1. Ah, this reminds me of the social outrage some members of the community I lived in had about gangs of youths roaming the streets of Saitama Prefecture getting into trouble and doing all kinds of Baby Yazuka stuff… on motor scooters. One school in the area actually forbade it’s students, on pain of death, from riding motor scooters for fear of tarshing the school’s reputation.

  2. Well obviously if Hoodlums and Ruffians are forced to drive cars to and from the scenes of their crimes, it’ll make the whole thing neater at least. *headdesk*

  3. Aren’t airports the responsibility of federal police? And if so, what does this say about John Howard’s “be alert not alarmed” terrorism laws?
    In this case the ‘alert’ failed, so…..all we have left is ‘alarmed’? A shame Howard isn’t still around to defend his obviously flawed laws.

  4. I like the emphasis on “they got away in taxis” as well – with this odd undercurrent of collusion between bikies and taxi drivers. Particularly the ‘new’ version of bikie who is not white.

  5. As a motorcyclist I thank you for seeing the difference between bikers and bikies and for posting something sensible accordingly. You can pillion on my sportsbike any time.

  6. Looks like the law has already prepared a response to the Segway menace…
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    Deus Ex Macintosh’s last blog post..Pull the other one (it might still be attached)

  7. Sorry, correct pic here

  8. I’d rather see something done about the global gang warfare that governments participate in.
    I’d also like it to be noted that not all bikies are monsters and not all bikers are decent people.

  9. I don’t think AFP confused bikers and bikies, I think it’s just that the word “bikies” doesn’t exist outside Australia and AFP is writing for an international audience.

  10. Agree with Colleen: “bikie” isn’t understood outside Australia.
    BTW, you left one of the definitions out…
    Bikie=bad guy, gang member
    Biker=ordinary person with a motorcycle
    Motorcycle enthusiast=we want you to spend money in our town.

  11. Ah right, first the terrorists, now “bikies”, then which association of people will they outlaw under these new “protective” laws? I feel so *safe*.

  12. Totally agree, calyx. Hating on muslims is just so passe now. Bikies are the new group to “fear”.

  13. I can confirm that here in the UK we have never heard of the term “bikies”; we call our motorcycle gang members “bikers”.

  14. So what do call law-abiding members of legitimate motorcycle recreation clubs?

  15. I notice that this sudden moral panic about motorcyclists seems to be coinciding with an increase in visibility, with more people turning to bikes as a way to counter high fuel costs.

    We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of creating a false dichotomy here, with some kinds of cyclists being demonised and others being elevated to saint status. The rights of all citizens need to be protected.

  16. Well, since in the States we call all individuals who ride motorcycles “bikers,” we tend to instead distinguish between the law-abiding and non-law-abiding ones by the type of group they join. The law-abiding groups are usually called motorcycle/bike clubs and the non-law-abiding groups are called motorcycle/biker gangs.
    Of course, often whether a group is designated a “club” or a “gang” in conversation depends on how… unsavory they look to the observer. Which, in practice, often means that a lot of tattooed guys in leather get branded gang members, whether they’ve done anything wrong or not.
    Colleen’s last blog post..Second Monday: So far, so good

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