Lohlife: Busted In The Scoop-mobile!
Fines, Thugz ‘n Harmony
LOHLIFE – Thursday, September 7, 2000
Mathew and the Scoop-mobile before they were jailed
WELL it was a hard night in LOH’sLIFE on Wednesday. And according to Thursday’s papers it was an even harder night for our much maligned, overworked and understaffed police force – yeah right!
As the Wellington evening papers reported the police described “violence erupting” among teenage hordes before, during and after a Bones Thugz N Harmony rap concert in the city. Well LOHLIFE was there on the inside - literally – in a Wellington central police cell to see these terrors being dumped behind bars.
And what terrors they were, a bunch of mainly timid teenagers who may have been a bit loud on the night – loud enough anyway to attract the attention of police seemingly out to fill a quota of TERRIBLE TEENS rampaging out of control.
Anyway the sight and sound of these so-called terrors as they related their crimes: drinking in public; breaking a bottle, smoking a joint; escaping from custody after being seen smoking a joint; and believe it or not – communicating with a prisoner (who himself had been arrested for a dubious disorderly charge) was almost as much as a joke as the circumstances surrounding my witnessing their sorry plight.
Now don’t get me wrong, while LOHLIFE may be no stranger to the seedier side of life, he isn’t a regular visitor at all to the Hotel Central Police Station, and could have seen the teen terrors erupting into violence from loftier heights than what eventuated.
Yes LOHLIFE could have been there hanging with Bones and the rest of his Thugz and rappin’ crew courtesy of a close kinship with Kerry “the Jazzman” Boagni a legendary NZ-based black basket-baller who had the connection to the Bones crew.
But unfortunately instead of shaking the long hand of the Jazzman I was in the long arm of the law and locked up overnight for a total of close to 20 hours. Not because of any dastardly deed, serious crime or anything remotely interesting, no I was locked up and taking the time of police crying staff shortages in the face of five ongoing murder investigations, for that crime of crimes ,UNPAID FINES.
It reminded me of a comedy skit I have seen I think it was done by the surreal Monty Python crew that had crims lining up for seating. “MURDERER” shouts the warder and the murderer wanders out and sits down; “BANK ROBBER” and the bank-robber sits down next to his murdering mate; “ARSONIST” and the arsonist nestles beside the robber; “RAPIST” and the rapist takes a pew alongside his burning buddy. Then the shout of UNPAID FINES resounds through the air and all the crims shudder, shake and cower as they crowd to the corner to give room to that hardest of hard-core criminal the man who says up you to all and sundry by having the courage and criminal inclination to dare have UNPAID FINES.
You get the picture. But why would unpaid fines keep locked up for 20 hours? Well normally it wouldn’t, although admittedly legally unpaid fines leading to a warrant does give the cops the rights to hold you, but in the real world burglars, dealers and all sorts get bailed before having to spend a night behind bars, so why was I in overnight?
I’ll tell you why. It started when I was pulled over driving my registered and warranted Scoopmobile on Dixon St. At the time I didn’t know why I was pulled over, but later one of the arresting officers, Constable Lomas - No. ALI 617 - admitted that with my dark skin and rough dress I was a target as they targeted anyone appearing to be of lower socio-economic group. This was real policing he said. As poor people were more likely to have outstanding warrants or be active criminals.
That was why I was pulled over - but apart from my fines – which only three weeks before had been brought to my attention by another police officer (the payments had lapsed) and I made the necessary calls to sort it out – why was I kept in overnight?
The answer to that is simple Constable Foubister - No. RFH 590. She just didn’t like me. And in the typical good cop bad cop routine, went overboard on the bad side of the coin. She wouldn’t listen to my reasoning and protestations that the system not me was at fault. No she taunted me: “You’re staying overnight as anything (fines) over $1,000 means we can hold you until court tomorrow”
But even that wasn’t the case as when I said I could have my lawyer there to pay $600 to get me below the $1000 threshold Constable Foubister just laughed and said I’d need $1600 cash in minutes to have any chance of leaving the cells that night. She then even had the audacity to try not recording my right of protest about her behaviour.
When I, in answering another officer’s questions about my treatment, said I had been verbally abused, accused of lying and treated without any compassion whatsoever, Constable Foubister tried to prevent those comments being recorded, and when they were, she repeated them to me in surly sarcastic voice.
By then I knew I was in for a night in the cells, so I settled in to watch the hordes of rampaging teens being brought in.
All in all it was in a way an utterly hilarious joke – especially after the prosecuting sergeant Mark May turned up. Knowing him from way back I called him over.
“I’ve been in custody for 20 hours for unpaid fines” I told him.
“Unpaid fines are you sure that’s all?” replied an incredulous sergeant May.
“Just unpaid fines, you should have been out yesterday...hold on”.
And within minutes I was been hustled out of the holding cells and upstairs to sign a minutes worth of documentation and I was home free...a matter of minutes, and not a judge in sight. Like Sergeant May said, I should have been out the day before.
But then I wouldn’t have seen the comedy of the New Zealand police as they wasted their time on me and their hordes of rampaging violent teens. It really was a comic night of Fines Thugz and Disharmony. But sadly there is a tragedy involved, and that is the poor policing on display when there are five ongoing homicide cases, countless nutters lurking with intent to injure, and many other serious crimes going unsolved