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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dirty, filthy, swearing, aggro, street scum

2:30am: Trying to communicate with surly street prostitutes may be akward at best, but when you have seen yet another load of half-eaten McD's sprayed all over the footpath from what looks like a car and you knock on the window to enquire as to whether it eminated from there and are insulted and then assaulted by an irrate postitute with bogan in tow proclaiming they have mates "on the CIB" it may be time to draw a line.

At least twice a week I walk back from the Auckland CBD via Hopetoun St and after 8pm the Eastern side is strewn with prostitutes and the Western side (where the Victorian Villas are) is reserved for the civillians. Now as the good burghers of Grey Lynn well know, one side is for them, the other for us, and never the twain shall meet. However I have seen the undesirables hiffing all manner of left-overs out of their cars on "our side," and because I was sober (and to my shame and regret) did nothing but offer a scornful and lingering gaze at the city's filthy underbelly before.

But tonight was different. With many a chit-redeemed 9% bourbon and colas under my belt from a sojourn to the roaring "Barmy Army" HQ at the Viaduct Harbour I trudged my way back uptown through streams of Zurich emblazoned Poms and some purposeful looking blazered Lions members.

And there it was: most of a McDonald's "meal" of varying degrees of crap all over the place. Concerned, I halt. Looking at the car from whence it presumably came, I see a white blanket across both the front seats. Maybe someone is under there and can assist me? So I knock on the window. And keep knocking... officiously. Perhaps they could advise me as to the source of the carelessly, maybe even deliberately, hurled litter. A female stirred from beneath the blanket and uttered something about "fuck off" several times. Undeterred I knock again. More abuse. More knocking. I feign a hearing disability. More abuse. She opens the door and before I can tell her why I am trying to summon her she flails at me with her fists and then a male opens the other door and mumbles something as she keeps striking. Undeterred, I point out the litter but she is in no mood for discussion and she goes at me again (naturally I do not assault her but fend off the blows hits as best I can, stopping to retrieve my glasses. Her male companion keeps a distance (I am bigger than him) while she mouths off.

After some more remonstration and more fists and threats of police protection from her, I take down the plate number and go up to K Rd to find some Police. They take me on a once-around but they are gone. They say the new prostitution law means they cannot do anything and "it's the oldest profession in the world" etc... Whatever. I give them the details (including the number plate which I would post now if I still had it) and reiterate to them the conventions about the street and limits of tolerance.

There lurks within each of us, I suspect, a little bit of Dirty Harry, a bit of Falling Down, a little bit of vigilantism. A couple of prostitutes were murdered only a year or two ago up there, stabbed to death in a most horrifying manner... and yet there they are... with this behaviour. There may come a time when someone asks why should only one side of your local street belong to you and the other side to scum. Someone might ask why scum is given anything at all. Are they our streets? Or are they their streets? Why do the Police tolerate it? If they aren't in control, who is?

After tonight my tolerance is somewhat lessened. I do not expect the cops to bother to do anything. That is for the community to enforce. And it starts tonight. Henceforth they will receive enforcement from me on a consistent basis. If there is any bruising evident tomorrow morning then that enforcement will be strictly administered on an active basis.
-------------UPDATE-------------
Later that afternoon some further observations:
About two months ago Police were stopping cars on Williamson Ave (within 200m of the above incident) and checking for safety belt compliance. One cop would stand on the corner of Ponsonby Road as a spotter and then the motorcycle cop would chase after the offenders as they headed down Williamson. (I overheard the motorcycle cop explain to a driver that he had pulled over why they were doing it). The day I witnessed that there was a squeegie/car window washer making a nuisance of himself at the lights on K'Rd (within sight and about 200m from the "spotter" cop.) Why are they paid such a high amount of money for duties that a council worker could do? If they turn a blind eye on a policy basis towards all manner of "petty" crime so they can focus on even pettier crimes, then what is the point of them?

I suggest community security made up of elected wardens and appointed sub-wardens to replace the bulk of the police "force" so the Police can deal with detective work and the like instead of all the revenue-generating bullshit and choosing light duties that don't get their hands dirty. Police tell me that due to the national nature of the service much local knowledge is lost as cops get rotated out of areas with all the inefficiencies that causes. Wardens would provide a strong continuity, depth of intimate local knowledge, personal networks, visibility, accessibility and local accountability.
-------------OPERATION: STREETSWEEPER UPDATE-------------
Later that evening:
So wandering back from town, across the street this time, there it is. A shitty, white, 80s Honda Accord (number plate: SN3691) with the same blank-looking bogan in the driver's seat. I ring the cops, they say I should confirm it. I make a reconoiter and ring them back. They will see what they can do... Whatever. The central police station is less than a kilometre down the road for heaven's sake! Is it time for a Mugabesquely named Operation: Streetsweeper to put things right?

What I need is a police-type baton made out of an unbreakable light metallic material that I have provisionally named Bronsonite. Tap, tap, tap... Can you hear me?... Hey, don't, mate... I wouldn't if I were you... smash!... Well I told you not to... Well that's because you're in pain... Of course it's going to hurt... Yeah, it looks broken to me too... Now don't make things worse for yourself... Well whether or not I can do that is irrelevant - I have... No, I'm not a policeman...

7 Comments:

At 10/7/05 9:13 am, Blogger stephen said...

Just to clarify, is it people fucking in cars, or litter which annoys you the most?

 
At 10/7/05 3:27 pm, Blogger t selwyn said...

SJ:
Litter. Although it looked like they may have been asleep I don't want to know what was occuring under the blanket - none of my business.

No bruising. Minor damage to glasses. My angry Charles Bronson/Taxi Driver impersonation will have to wait.

Option One is to deliberately walk on the other side of the street to emphasise that I have as much right to it as them. If they hassle me then... they will wish they hadn't.

Option Two is to invite the large lads from Destiny Church to stand up for their convictions and "take back the streets" by stationing themselves at various points and bible-bashing the prostitutes away. It would be helpful if they could have a slightly out of tune lead singer with a casiotone... then again it's now sounding as bad a scenario as the prostitutes.

 
At 10/7/05 5:56 pm, Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

That street is skank, and its beyond me why the Police (central station just down the road) and City Council don't do anything about it.

It may be legal to sell prostitution nowadays, but that doesn't mean it should be legal to do it on the side of a fairly busy road in plain view of everyone else, especially when a girls high school and many residential buildings are located in the area.

 
At 11/7/05 5:06 pm, Blogger Cathy Odgers said...

Tim

Anyone else posting that you would look at a calendar thinking it was April 1, but you - well I believe every report of your action!

I think the Destiny Church worker idea has some merit.

Send their big lads out on K'Rd to sweep the streets. It may keep them off the hustings come election time.

 
At 12/7/05 2:00 am, Blogger t selwyn said...

CO: Maybe they could get a few hooker votes.

Don't get me wrong most street hookers up there are more the "granny" types who offer a pleasant "evening" when you pass, but some are the aggro type and of course there is the most unpleasant elements that occur with these people.

They have an alcohol ban just up the road, maybe there should be a "whore ban" also - for the whole city! The entire enterprise is so ugly. Can't they just place ads in the Truth or Brass or whatever? Can't they just pin their business cards to a noticeboard somewhere? Discretion.

The problem is with the police tolerance comes an air of contempt for order and other rules. I think the concept of the "broken windows" strategy is a case study worth looking at. Consistency of enforcement is important. It is unfair for relatively law abiding people to be harrassed over seat belts when across the street all manner of hoiking, littering, intimidating, loitering prostitution is going on unpunished and tacitly approved.

 
At 17/7/05 11:00 am, Anonymous mara said...

Tim,glad to see some sexy atavistic urges periodically occur in the hearts of the mildest of men.But lose the glasses pal.Hehe

 
At 21/7/05 1:28 pm, Blogger Rob Good said...

The trials and tribulations of a walk down the street in Auckland. In LA the cops would be over that like a rash. The cops here get underpaid if you know what I mean.

 

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