Victoria Police today conducted a series of raids on the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club — and netted almost nothing. John Turnbull considers what sort of message this sends.
EARLY THIS MORNING, Victorian police conducted a series of raids of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, along with club friends and associates.
Mainstream media reports that more than 700 officers were involved in the raids, which led to the arrest of 13 (thirteen) people for various weapon and drug offences. Senior police officers claimed that the raids were meant to "send a message" to the bikie community and send a message they did.
But what exactly was that message?
"Hi, we’re planning a raid tomorrow morning. Do you mind hiding anything really dangerous until we’re gone?"
Or perhaps it was:
"We’d like to be seen to be tough on bikie crime, but we’re really afraid of the tough gangs so we’ll target a bunch of old blokes with a famous name."
Did the bikies know that the cops were coming?
Of course they did. The main Hells Angels clubhouse in Melbourne had exactly one resident at the time of the raid, a tubby bloke in his mid-forties. This clubhouse would usually have at least half a dozen blokes on site — but for some mysterious reason they’d decided to spend the night elsewhere (along with most of their guns and drugs).
The Victorian police claimed that they were looking for an AK-47 and M1 carbine that had been used in a series of crimes — but no such weapons were recovered. It is reported that a total of four guns, a sword and a crossbow were recovered. That’s a pretty small stash for the most dangerous MC in the country…
And why were the Hells Angels targeted?
Why not the Bandidos? Or the Finks? Or the MC without bikes, Brothers 4 Life? All of these clubs have been actively involved in high profile crimes (including the storming of a police station on the Gold Coast which you’d think would rank high on the serious list) yet the cops target the Hell’s Angels, which more people know from American TV shows than nightly crime reports on the news.
If the Victorian police really wanted a high profile target, they should have gone after the Sons of Anarchy; everyone knows that they’ve got an Irish connection for AK-47s and MP-5s. And being a bunch of actors, they’re also unlikely to put up much resistance. You also probably wouldn’t need 700 cops and hundreds of thousands of dollars in resources to arrest thirteen (13) people.
Behind the smokescreen of these show raids, opportunistic politicians are using the furore about bikie crime to further erode our civil liberties.
After being declared criminal organisations in NSW, new laws being pushed through in Queensland mean that bikies (or suspected bikies) can be arrested and held indefinitely for refusing to answer police questions.
That’s right, you no longer have the right to remain silent.*
To misquote Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the bikies, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a bikie…
* Okay, I appreciate that in Australia we’ve never technically had the right to remain silent, but you get my point. Tattoos + motorcycle does not necessarily equal criminal.
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