Confronted by gang mayhem, as happens regularly now in Melbourne, are police to wade in with stun guns and truncheons? More than an officer’s career would be worth, once legal-aid activists weigh in with cries of ‘Racism!’ and the brass writes cheques to miscreants. This need never have come about
Police were called to a rowdy party in North Melbourne at the end of April. Apparently up to fifty Sundanese youths were involved. The police got them to leave the premises but they created mayhem outside, including damaging police cars. The police took refuge in the townhouse rather than confront the youths. At least that is the way it was reported in The Age and in other news outlets. Also, according to a report in The Age, it was estimated that seven police officers originally attended the scene.
The precise facts of the case are not pertinent to my theme. What is pertinent is that the police were clearly well outnumbered. I heard some commentators imply criticism of the police, deflected onto those giving them riding instructions, for not confronting the thugs in the street. This is plain silly.
Police officers are human beings just like you and me. If possible they would like to end their shifts without incurring life-changing injuries. I once ran into the back of car in the centre of Adelaide. Three policemen where talking to a group of five or six disorderly Aboriginal men on a corner outside a pub. I called one of the policemen over to do the right thing and report the accident. He was young. He couldn’t have cared less about my prang and returned quickly to his colleagues. It was obvious. He was (very) visibly nervous at the prospect of tangling with five or six drunken Aboriginals when he was one of just three.
About week after the North Melbourne incident it was reported that some 150 youths of “African appearance” (presumably not disciples of Al Jolson) trashed a house in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray while the police stood by. Apparently, the police told the owner of the rented property that they could not enter unless she had proof that damage was being done. A strange business perhaps but would you like to face up to 150 youths, African or otherwise, behaving riotously unless backed by a SWAT team and tanks?
My point is that being seriously outnumbered, as was the case in North Melbourne and Footscray, is an impossible situation for the police unless there is confidence in an implied social contract between both sides. That social contract, which we have grown up with, is that the police will only act in accordance with their authority and, when they so act, that civilians – even when well outnumbering the police – will comply with lawful directions. Or at the very least will not turn on the police in a physically violent way.
I am prepared to guess that Sudanese youths running wild have not heard of this social contract. I am very sure the police suspect that they haven’t. What then exactly are the police to do? Perhaps they should venture forward with Tasers and truncheons at the ready. Good luck with that one. Of course, police have guns. But imagine what the media would make of them drawing them, never mind firing even warning shots? The police officers concerned would risk losing their careers and perhaps their freedom.
Our society, as its structured, cannot handle large gangs wreaking violence in public places. Gang members who injure and kill only each other is one thing. It is quite another if they run riot on the streets. We are not set up to handle it. Societies that are, Central American republics for example, look different to ours. You often see pictures on the TV of police weighing into rioters without a care for their welfare. We might tut-tut but exactly what do you do when large numbers of people are intent on violence?
There is no benign answer. In the case of the recent gang violence (and, let’s not forget, home invasions) in Melbourne, the answer would have been to have never let Sudanese refugees enter the country in the first place, or any refugees who pose the slightest risk to civilised values. Australian citizens come first, or they should. Unfortunately, successive governments have put their citizens at risk in order to satisfy do-gooder international conventions. That’s why Trump is so refreshing in simply trying to put Americans first. How novel is that nowadays! Australians injured by Sudanese violence should rightfully direct their ire at the political class who have conspired to put their safety in jeopardy.
As it is, there is little option but to go on increasing the militarisation of police forces. That’s what Islamic terrorism has already brought, together with intrusive searches, inconveniences and bollards. Sudanese gangs just up the ante. At question, I suppose for us ordinary Joes, is who next? Which people from which dysfunctional culture will be chosen next by politicians to supplement our population.
A passing thought. I doubt we would find white South African farmers trashing houses and running wild in the streets. Just a guess.