Dec 10, 2010

In Support of Patch Bans

Until not so long ago I opposed Patch bans on liberal grounds but more importantly I believed a ban would not help eliminate any gang associated problems. What Patch bans do do are mask the gang problem and further marginalise the already marginalised. In many cases a Patch ban removes a gang member’s only identity and fuels continued resentment and rejection which always translates to negative behaviours such as violence and substance abuse.  When their identity is taken away from them they need something to rage against. So what I’m trying to say is these people need help not further angst.

To be fair a Patch ban does have some redeeming factors, mostly superficial like increasing perceptions about the community and reducing colour confrontation, but there is one major advantage. It sends a message to the very young that gangs are an unacceptable part of the community. It says to those susceptible to joining a gang that these people are not to be admired, gang membership should not be an aspiration. Gangs become abnormal because they are out of sight and out of mind for young people.

Therefore, I support gang patches… on Marae. A ban says to rangatahi Maori that gangs are not Maori and they are unacceptable. It says you come onto the Marae as a Maori, Pakeha, Tauiwi. You come representing your whakapapa, you come as a manifestation of your ancestors – you come not as a gang member. I think our Maori leaders must follow the example set by Pem Bird the current President of the Maori Party and respected School Principal and community leader in Murupara. Pem has called a rahui on gang violence and the wearing of gang patches on Murupara Marae. This is a great example of applying ancient Maori solutions to contemporary problems and embodies the sort of innovative thinking Maori need to tackle the problems modern society poses. It is a testament to the mana of Pem that there has been no eruption of violence in Murupara despite the very tense situation in the town.

Therefore, I support Patch bans - to a certain degree. Gangs need to be seen as the unacceptable part of our society that they are.

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