Over the last few weeks there were a couple of violent incidents on the North Shore that very much disturbed me and many others who enjoy a peaceful a ‘safe’ life in our ‘burbs’. Near Milford Beach 2 people were badly assaulted by youths who asked if they had ever met ‘real gangsta’s’ before and after accepting a beer from them proceded to beat them so badly that they both need plastic surgery and one needed emergancy brain surgery. A similar incident happend the following night and it appears that it was the same 5 boys, average age 18 who are now in custody.
We live in a ‘safe’ neighbourhood, statistically the safest city in NZ and we aren’t used to this sort of thuggery. One of the incidents happened while a couple were walking on the beach in the late evening, a time when people often enjoy a quiet walk. Initial reports suggested that they were ‘prospects’ for a street gang trying to get a foothold in the area and everyone hoped that they were from another area, but 4 of the 5 were local. As regards the gang, that is now probably sub judice and they probably don’t want to give the gang any more notoriety through publicity.
The local police chief said that if gangs ever got a foothold in our neighbourhood he would resign and I am sure he is committed to his position and will do what he can. The thing is, we haven’t had to deal with this sort of situation and it makes you feel very uncomfortable. My first thoughts were, do I need to consider my safety? Do I need to consider carrying some sort of weapon in my car in order to protect myself or my family? I don’t want to, but if my family are ever threatened, I would certainly lay my life on the line for theirs in whatever way I can. I don’t want to even contemplate this, but here’s the thing. If citizens leave it up to the police who are always under resourced and we look away or do nothing, leaving it up to someone else, will we end up having to live in this environment?
I’ve been to cities in South Africa where violence is commonplace, I’ve been to shopping malls where shops sell self defence products over the counter including pistol flame throwers etc. I have a friend who lives with a loaded pistol on his bedside cabinet. One of the reasons I live where I do and not earning the biger dollars in the USA and other places where I have been offered positions, is because I feel that here is one of the safest places to raise a family and I believe it still is, but I need it to stay this way.
I don’t have any answers, but I have an uneasy feeling that things may get worse over time and I don’t want that to happen. I do believe that as citizens, we have a responsibility and a right to a safe neighbourhood and I don’t know what to do about it. Maybe with the benefit of 20:20 hindsite, someone could look at us and tell me what they would do if they have a second chance, because we still have a chance.
I suppose the good news is that most crimes like this in New Zealand do get solved and the poor unfortunate youth who ‘never had a fair chance in life to start with’ are put away for a period of time, to learn more tricks of their trade (getting really cynical here).
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10488807 On a happier front, a 16 year old boy was chased and caught by the public after stabbing someone to death in a milk bar. But of course by then his victim had lost his life.