Gangs want in on Govt policy

By Ripeka Timutimu

A Black Power member is calling for more input by gang members into the government's Gang Action plan policy. Eugene Ryder spoke to Te Kāea after the government released two new initiatives that will thrust gangs under the government spotlight.

Life hasn't always been a cup of tea for Eugene Ryder. After 29 years in the Black Power, Ryder feels the government's policy on gangs is one-sided.

“I think if we are given the opportunity then we will have a perspective and we will have a view on how we think things can work,” says Ryder.

Today the government announced two initiatives which form part of the 'Gang Action Plan' policy. Firstly, the establishment of a 'Gang Intelligence Centre' to disturb and disrupt illegal gang activity. Secondly, a pilot program in the Bay of Plenty and East Coast aimed at supporting the partners and children of gang members to lead successful lives.

Ryder supports the government's initiatives, “I think if the objective is to help gang families into better education, housing and employment then it’s a good thing.”

But Labour MP Kelvin Davis says the government has skipped a beat, “They need to speak with gangs to see why they joined in the first place.”

Ryder says, “It’s every persons God given right to associate with whoever they want however if the attitudes of the govt aimed at behaviours of people as opposed to association then maybe we could get somewhere not all gang members are criminals as not all criminals are gang members.”

Ryder is hopeful the government's policies will help the most vulnerable of gang families.