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Thursday, March 10, 2011

More on the anti-looting lynch mob


As if the police bashing a young autistic man for stealing light switches isn't bad enough, a Herald article today illustrates some of the offenses that looters are being accused of. More disturbing, Judge Michael Crosbie is taking a hard line with these offenders, who include the mentally unwell, the hungry and drug addicts. See the excerpt below:

Judge takes hard line with earthquake accused offenders

Another man arrested for breaching a no-alcohol condition of his bail said he had gone drinking to get arrested because he could not get help for his mental health problem.

Since his arrest he had seen a psychiatric nurse and been given medication. He further remanded on bail.

A Lyttelton man found in a house said he was trying to steal a toaster because his family only had stale bread to eat.

Duty solicitor Kerry Cook said the risk of further offending could be covered by strict bail conditions and the man had no previous convictions.

But Judge Crosbie said there was justification for a remand in custody under present conditions.

"I would have thought that if he has done something like this at this time, he is capable of doing anything, and capable of doing it again," he said, remanding the man to March 28.

Another man got bail after being arrested for trying to siphon petrol from a car so he could drive to a local chemist to collect his methadone prescription.

Judge Crosbie granted him bail, with a curfew at home but a two-hour window each morning to get his methadone.

It is imperative to emphasize at this point that people are under a large amount of psychological distress after an event that killed around 200 people and have been exposed to trauma. People do not necessarily behave rationally under these conditions, and penalizing people too heavily or naming and shaming as in the deplorable Facebook group that attracted over 56,000 supporters is not necessarily the best way of dealing with people that have gone through a major disaster. It is not uncommon for people in these kind of disasters to drink, as detailed in the TV3 blog on ethics of public urination going out the window. These people need help by and large NOT harsh prison sentences or vigilante-type violence.

It is also imperative to realize that after the last quake, which had a death toll of zero, family violence and suicide numbers rose. Add to this the drive for demolition and uncertainty about the salvaging of houses and this is a city under stress. Let's hear some strong government support for people suffering from mental illnesses, a number that is likely to have risen following the trauma of the quake due to many people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Yes, order has to be maintained. But do we have to be completely unsympathetic to people behaving strangely under stress? This is a well-documented effect of such disasters.

***UPDATE**** As often happens in social networking, there are a group of people that have largely taken control of the Public Humiliation page and have been debating it out with those who are calling for violence. These people should be commended for spending their spare time rationalizing with what was initially a very angry groundswell.

10 Comments:

At 10/3/11 2:58 pm, Blogger Paul said...

I am Maori an I live in Christchurch. There is help out there for people if they need it. Yes I am aware of aid issues in the eastern suburbs. If your toaster is busted you can cook toast over a fire of a gas flame You can ask whanau neighbours friends for help. You do not have to resort to looting. That is a pathetic excuse. looters are the scum of the earth especially when they loot homes. They prey on people who have lost homes or have damaged homes, who are traumatised.

Pheobe Fletcher says that it is excusable because they have a drug habit. That the authorities are being to harsh on the looters Bullshit. It is not societies fault that they have a drug habit. They chose to take drugs. It is time that we all took responsibility for our own actions; not blame everybody else.

Looting or thieving from someone who has become a victim because of a natural disaster is despicable. The Judge is right locking them, away.

Pheobe you come here and you go live in a broken house in Aranui or Bexley or Avonside, with no water no sewerage no power and then find that some stranger has rifled their way through whats left of your house and thrashed it. A female friend of mine likens it to rape and she is not wrong. Then you tell us if you still agree with what you wrote. Christchurch Kia Kaha.

 
At 10/3/11 3:15 pm, Blogger Paul said...

I live in Christchurch and I am Maori. Looters are the scum of the earth because they prey on people who are already traumaised by a natural disaster damaging or destroying their homes. The last thing the victims need is strangers rifling though, thrashing and stealing from what is left of their homes. The Judge is correct in gaoling them until the next court date.

Yes I agree that a disaster causes victims to exhibit behaviours that are not normal for them but we all do that under stress. But it doesn't excuse us from knowing what is right or wrong. Under severe stress we saw a lot of heroic actions by ordinary people. They did what they thought was right, but who could condone looting as right?

There is help if you need food or shelter the basic necessities of life. You don't need to loot to get those. Pheobe you need to come to Christchurch and live and experience the lives the people of Aranui or Bexley or Avonside are living. Then maybe experience the looting. I wonder if your opinion would be different.

 
At 10/3/11 6:52 pm, Blogger fatty said...

This needed needed to be said.

Looting is stealing, just under different circumstances, often a more justified circumstance. There are so many desperate people in Christchurch right now, they may resort to doing stupid things. We cannot expect crime to stop, in fact we must expect it to increase.

Easy headlines for a lazy media and lapped up by an ignorant public...hardly surprising.

 
At 10/3/11 8:52 pm, Blogger sprog said...

I wonder if people have to prove that they're suffering from post-traumatic stress before they receive help? Sort of like rape victims having to prove that the rape has caused them mental stress before being funded by ACC.

People like Cameron Slater in his call to gut shoot looters and leave them to die slowly show a very horrible side to our culture when the facts are fully understood.

Acknowledging post-traumatic stress in situations like the Christchurch Earthquake is not limiting people’s personal responsibility for their actions. It is allowing for the healing process to begin.

In some ways, the mental destruction is just as relevant as the cities destruction. We need a comprehensive plan to rebuild people psyches so that they can better cope.

What we don’t need is more calls for lynch mobs feeding on hatred and their own fears of not really being able to do anything to help. The best way to help those impacted is by having some understanding and compassion. This should apply to our justice system most of all.

 
At 10/3/11 9:33 pm, Blogger fatty said...

"What we don’t need is more calls for lynch mobs feeding on hatred and their own fears of not really being able to do anything to help. The best way to help those impacted is by having some understanding and compassion. This should apply to our justice system most of all."

Well put sprog.

@ Paul:

Nobody is excusing the behavior, its just there are reasons for that behavior...that being socio-economic and psychological influences. These conditions existed in Christchurch (and everywhere) one year ago...today they are still there, but the earthquake has exasperated them, therefore its natural for stealing (looting) to exist...it should be expected.
In now way do I tolerate it or want it to happen, but I understand it...in fact I understand and expect it to happen more right now than a year ago.

Therefore the 'understanding and compassion' sprog mentioned is needed, not heavy handed and reactionary retributive justice.
We must all take a step back and have empathy, in every situation, as we are all vulnerable right now.

 
At 11/3/11 8:30 am, Blogger Phoebe Fletcher said...

@Paul, I'm not saying looting doesn't happen or it's not despicable, I'm just saying that people have been through a really traumatizing event, and that not all people will necessarily be rational. This is no way was meant to detract from the tragedy and terrible conditions of Christchurch, but to ask for a little bit of sympathy particularly in cases where people are mentally ill. The Schizophrenia Foundation issued a press release yesterday asking for help for people with mental issues who may not have access to medication, or where the trauma has exacerbated their illness.

 
At 11/3/11 9:39 am, Blogger BobbyD said...

Ironic, the cops on the ground would be amongst the most traumatized and affected having had to deal with countless deaths and mutilated bodies. However Bomber holds them to full account for allegedly overreacting when arresting a looter...

 
At 11/3/11 2:57 pm, Blogger Bomber said...

Ironic, the cops on the ground would be amongst the most traumatized and affected having had to deal with countless deaths and mutilated bodies. However Bomber holds them to full account for allegedly overreacting when arresting a looter...
...no I don't. I hold them to full account for beating up an autistic young man who had a fetish for light switches.

Don't forget that I also denigrate those who whipped up the anti-looting lynch mob.

 
At 11/3/11 5:20 pm, Blogger fatty said...

Did someone here just compare a mentally ill person who posses a compulsive need to steal, to a well paid, well supported and trained police officer?

Nice one BobbyD, good to see you set the bar nice and low for cops, they deserve it.

 
At 11/3/11 5:45 pm, Blogger Phoebe Fletcher said...

@BobbyD: Totally agree with you on the cops being traumatized, as with most of the people's reactions. I'm more looking at the court process. Everyone has been through a horrific amount of trauma.

 

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