Keyboard vigilantes

p2231-keyboard-3By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Vigilante sentiments are alive and well in Alice Springs. One individual runs a website that speaks for two groups calling themselves the Concerned Residents Council (CRC) and the Alice Springs Volunteer Force (AVF).

 

A post and thread last Sunday, in the wake of rock throwing and vandalism last week, started with a summary of non-violent CRC activities, followed by an AVF “warning” that is an overt threat of violence.

 

The CRC pats itself on the back for having restored order (the spelling here has been maintained as it is on the site):

 

“If I had a pin I would drop it in most areas tonight, and hear it Bounce.

 

“I have taken a 30 min Break. I sent the Billy Goat Volunteers off site at midnight. Thanks to those who honked their horns and wished us well. Its not easy standing for 3 hours in the one spot.

 

“There has been no significant items brought to our attention in EAST NORTH LARA or GAP.

 

“For the next 2 hours the remainder of our volunteers will patrol and observe only.”

 

The tone of the statement on behalf of the AVF sounds far less benign:

 

“WARNING on behalf of AVF.

 

“Who breaks into houses in Alice Springs???? …… Potential victims of the Alice Springs Volunteer Force that’s who. You have been warned. House breakers Will not be tolerated. Formal warning to those wanting to Break into Houses or Steal cars will be declared after the AVF meeting on the Full Moon 4th May.

 

“Spread the word to yer buddies. Alice is no longer an easy target. If identified as Housebreaker, or car thief, you will be severely dealt with.

 

“AVF.”

 

The response is mixed:-

 

“Dealt with how??? Vigilante style (with pitchforks and torches) or by the actual law???”
“Actually not pitchforks … Maybe some bats of some kind? Hahahaha”
“Sounds like this group provides more work for the NT Police, not a support group!”
“Maybe on horseback wearing white cloaks carrying fire torches!”
“I liked your post re CRC. But the AVF warning at the end smacks of a throwback to the UVF and the ‘troubles’ in Ireland. Pathetic.”

 

“I could tell you at least five stories about how the N.T police have let me down. I’m all for the community and police working together. If we can … But let’s not get it all out of control too…”
“I liked the crc but not the avf maybe you should have seperated the two!”

“This is just so good to read, what a difference you guys have  /  continue to make. Its nice to know there are people watching over our town for our safety. Thank you.

 

“The CRC and the AVF are not affiliated. I am a member of the CRC and spokesman for both entities. I must stress, that the CONCERNED RESIDENTS COUNCIL is not affiliated with the AVF anymore than the ALice Springs TOwn Council is.”

 

“So is the CRC the political wing of the AVF and is that why they both are in your post?”

 

“Well done, I’ll help when I’m in town … !  2-3 weeks before the show is the time to worry. Last year breakers also killed the dogs. Hearts go out to those who lost a loved pet when their place was done over!”

 

 

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15 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted May 4, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Dear Hal and Evelyn,
    Housebreakers have been warned not to break into houses. They will suffer consequences, mostly violent for this.
    It is difficult to open windows, or prowl streets late at night if your hands have been broken, or your kneecap smashed.
    Seeing your fellow man walk around on crutches and why, sends a powerful message to those contemplating a similar action.
    I understand this has occurred a few times since last July, however without the public knowledge the message to housebreakers seems to have gone a-miss.
    I hope no more examples are needed, but I very much doubt it.
    The next action taken by the AVF I’m sure will be claimed to a Media outlet.
    If the behaviour continues or increases then a clearer message will have to be broadcast.
    I am not sure how this or the actions of the CRC has anything to do with children.
    As the CRC achieved its aims and objectives, very effectively and at little cost, we shall continue.
    I note Billy Goat Hill was a success. Had a fifth of the People on the Alice Springs Forum turned up, we could have had more numbers over more areas.
    I think something good must have been on TV those nights, or perhaps everyone scored some good grass.
    More likely all where “supping on stubbies”. Rock throwing is not the only concern with residents in Alice Springs.
    I understand there is a bit of a list of concerns gone unanswered for many years by the governments, police, town council, NGOs etc. The Concerned Residents Council is listening to Alice Springs as a whole, and assessing our abilities to assist those concerns. We do not smoke grass, or waste every night of the week “sucking on stubbies.” Having said that Hal, your feedback is important to us.
    And to Evelyn. Thank you very much for the Wiki history lesson. I’m not sure you understand the topic though.
    Billy Goat Hill, or as I call it, junction of Larapinta and Stuart, is a traffic intersection. The facts you mention with regard trespassing, reads like the rest of you post; uninformed and irrelevant.
    I’m sorry but aside from the Wikipedia cut and paste, the remainder of you response is weak because you presume what action was taken, and whom the action was taken against. It’s like saying I shouldn’t eat McDonalds because of the inhumane way they treat cows when I am parked at Peter Kittles opposite Red Rooster, counting sheep.
    I appreciate you positive feedback, and that you agreed with our action. But a rock breaking through a window of a moving car, and striking a child in the head whilst the parent drives, does not care of the colour of who threw it. Nor the colour of the child who was struck.
    Nobody in Alice Springs has been able to explain to me why colour, gender or age has a baring on preventing anti-social behaviour. It certainly has no bearing on how the CRC deals with it.
    The Concerned Residents Council is growing, and has gaining momentum. Join us. Make Alice a safer place to live, visit, and somewhere to recommend to other Australians and tourists.
    I am sick, sore and tired of hearing Alice “is not safe to walk around at night or during the day.” I dream of a day when German backpackers are no longer told, “Get a Taxi. I know its only a mile, but you will be safer.”
    I dream of a day when I drive from one end of Alice to another and see more than five children playing in our many fantastic parks. Join us. Make this happen.
    Switch off your TV, switch off your Facebook for one day … and join us. Stop talking. Start doing. It is only together can we make a change for the better.
    Yours sincerely,
    Gary Hall

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  2. Posted May 4, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Dear Erwin,
    We are pleased to see such coverage around Australia, and feedback received from Europe and the United States of America.
    According to your article I run FACEBOOK. I must clarify that I do not, nor own Facebook, but thank you for confusing me with the billionaire who does.
    Your headline reads “Keyboard Vigilante”, then you go on to report a group out on the streets. I can confirm that keyboards where not assisting us during our effective action.
    My back is quite sore from all the patting I personally received from Hundreds of Alice Springs Community members.
    After four to five weeks of inaction by the Northern Territory Police, and the Northern Territory Government and the Alice Springs Town Council, the concerned residents of Alice Springs answered the call of the vast majority of concerns regarding antisocial behaviour, thefts, violence and assaults.
    On the morning of Friday 10th April 2015 I drove to work at 8am and witnessed hundreds of rocks strewn across the intersection of Larapinta and Stuart highway. It resembled Belfast city in 2002. This made me angry. Not just because of the people throwing the rocks, but of the inaction of those charged to curtail such behaviour.
    Instead of waiting another four to five weeks I decided to formulate a remedy and response to the calls from the public which fell on deaf ears of the Government and the Police.
    At 9am modus operandi had been completed, and at 9pm on Friday the 10th April 2015 was executed. The response was phenomenal.
    We were joined by members of Alice Springs Community on the streets. People sounded their horns whilst driving past us, some shouting, “Good on Ya” as they passed. Facebook comments are a testimony to the support of the people.
    We prevented anyone from throwing rocks.
    On 11th/12th April 2015 the Northern Territory Police finally responded. The numnber of officers, patrol cars across the town was visibly noticeable by the sheer increase in numbers and frequency of visiblity.
    On the 13th April 2015 the Chief Minister announced his response to the crisis. Albeit an infringement notice, but at least it was a response.
    On the 14th the Attorney General responded by saying children will be taking into care. He was then rebuffed, I believe, on Wednesday 15th to be advised that children taken into custody the previous evening, were already in State Care. But we can’t all get it right.
    So our Mode of Operation achieved its aims and goals on all levels. This has been rated as a success. Calls to continue have been welcomed.
    I would find it difficult to believe that it was a coincidence that Police and Government only responded with action in the few days that followed our action. I suggest they responded as a direct result on hearing people had taken to the streets.
    To date I am not sure what the action of the CRC has to do with race gender or age, but I’m sure some clever people will conclude at some point that preventing crime is unrelated to said labeling.
    Sorry to mention several groups in the one response:
    The Alice Springs Volunteer Force, the AVF has been around for a while prior to April 2015.
    After the coverage and public announcements of the CRC and the AVF, I was approached by several other existing similar groups already in Alice and operating for some time. I can see no evidence of reference to these existing groups anywhere in the NT media over the last five years.
    The AVF are proud to serve the people of Alice Springs and shall not hide in the shadows.
    A warning has been declared to those wishing to abuse our homes, vehicles, businesses, women and children.
    We have full confidence in the Government and NT Police performing their duties to the best of their abilities. They have been placed on notice as of 10th April 2015 not to drop their guard again, or ignore the calls of the people.
    The Concerned Residents Council are continuing on a daily basis to meet the concerns of Alice Springs residents in an array of issues. We will not be going away.
    Any action of the AVF will be proudly claimed.
    In closing I must apologise for spelling and grammar. We can not all be editors journalists, or those familiar with the art of communicating in writing to vast numbers of people in a small space of time. Spell checking can take some time.
    However, once I find an application that can check English spelling I’m afraid you will have to put up with poor copy, and “Americanese”.
    Yours sincerely,
    Gary Hall

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  3. Colenso
    Posted April 27, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    If skin colour is being used as an identifier, then “white” and “black” are the relevant terms here. A “Caucasian” is a person from the Caucasus.
    The theory that Northern Europeans originally emanated from the Caucasus is a racist and bogus theory that was debunked at least a century ago. Identifying whites with Caucasians, therefore, just shows that you’re clueless. If you’re clueless, or not interested in this, then just skip the next five paragraphs.
    The notion that the ancestors of all people with low amounts of the pigmentation melanin in their skin and hair came originally from the Southern Caucasus, specifically Georgia, was a theory proposed in 1775 by the Thuringian Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (b Gotha 11 May 1752 – d Gottingen 22 January 1840) in his MD thesis entitled “De generis humani varietate nativa” (On the Natural Variety of Mankind).
    Blumenbach wrote (in translation) that “Caucasian variety – I have taken the name of this variety from Mount Caucasus, both because its neighbourhood, and especially its southern slope, produces the most beautiful race of men (I mean the Georgian); and because all physiological reasoning leads to this: that in that region, if anywhere, it seems we ought to place the birth place of mankind.”
    Erroneously, Blumenbach believed that our species spread around the world, not after we had come out of Africa, but after we had emerged from the Caucasus. According to Blumenbach, and to his half-witted followers over the next two centuries, all non-white races were subsequent inferior deviations from the original, pure Caucasian race.
    Blumenbach’s theories laid the foundations of German Aryanism and reached their ghastly, logical conclusion in the racial cleansings of the death camps.
    As has been pointed out by one poster, the traditional custodians of the land upon which Alice Springs sits are the Aranda (aka Arrernte, Arunta, or Arrarnta).
    Anthwerrke (Emily Gap) is a very significant place where the caterpillar beings came together. Other important sites include Akeyulerre (Billy Goat Hill), Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), Atnelkentyarliweke (Anzac Hill) and Alhekulyele (Mt. Gillen), Akeyulerre (Billy Goat Hill), Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), Atnelkentyarliweke (Anzac Hill) and Alhekulyele (Mt. Gillen). [1]
    As has also been pointed out by another poster, however, just because a person with a black skin is causing trouble at a site of importance to the Aranda, it doesn’t follow that that person is necessarily of the Aranda.

    [1] http://web.archive.org/web/20011201210938/http://www.alicesprings.nt.gov.au/about_alice/aboriginal.asp

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  4. Billy
    Posted April 25, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    The warning on behalf of the AVF is reminiscent of the warnings given in Northen Ireland by an outlaw paramilitary group, the UVF or Ulster Volunteer Force!
    Is there an ex paramilitary from Northern Ireland in the ranks of the AVF?
    If so I urge the members of the AVF to stop and think what they could be getting themselves into if they are influenced making such warnings and what actions could come next.
    I encourage the members to look up Ulster Volunteer Force in Wikipedia and then consider their involvement in the AVF.

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  5. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted April 24, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I found very interesting to see that only few facts of my post were perceived or received: people can see only what they want to see. I have not assumed or presumed anything, because I do not see ethnic groups or skin colour, only people.
    The discussion is based on the question: Alice Springs Volunteer Force (AVF) or Concerned Residents Council (CRC) and I believed expressed quite well my point of views on the subject. CRC yes and AVF no.
    If I mentioned “trespassing” (there is a sign at he base of the hill) it is to point out that we do not fight crime by breaking the law; and I mentioned elders and police to underline the joint responsibility of joint cultures.
    PS: Some of you see the need to shout sign of bad temper (on the internet sentences in large capital letters are sign of yelling).

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  6. Richard Bentley
    Posted April 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I do recall that there was an assurance that the group were intent on deterring rock throwers and had no intention of inflicting punishment. I also recall that there was a mention that Indigenous people joined the group. I think they were successful, Rock throwing stopped at Billy Goat Hill.
    Unfortunately it moved a kilometre up the road.
    There is no doubt that more law abiding citizens out and about is a deterrent to delinquent behaviour. It is one element in improving life for everyone in this town.

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  7. Ian
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Evelyne Roullet, you say it’s a job for the police and the Elders.
    With all due respect to you, where are the Elders then? If these kids, whether they be Indigenous or Caucasian, had any respect for their Elders then this issue would have been resolved long ago.

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  8. Ray
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Evelyne, you are presuming that the kids themselves who are basing themselves on Billygoat Hill to throw stones are Arrernte just because they are black.
    You would also know that there are many skin groups and language groups that are from other “country”, who disrespect and destroy the sacred trees in the Todd and disrespect the Arrernte sacred sites.
    Just because they are black dose not mean it is their country. Have they asked the TO of Mbantua if they can chuck rocks at cars from their sacred hill? It is a shame that their is such frustration in the community that we once again feel forgotten about by the elected leaders.
    The experts come and go, and we had a summer of crime before the funding cuts were made to youth organisations, so them having nothing to do is not really valid, at least not the full story.
    I think it’s one person who has stood up, simply showing a presence, trying to do “something”.
    I followed the posts since the inception and it was always done as a non racist, non violent way. The other group seems vastly different, but once again it’s a shame that people feel a need to have to act.
    There is a lot of support for the way the CRC has conducted itself, they no doubt would call the police and direct them to an offender, if they saw one.
    I don’t think they are looking for an excuse for violent confrontation. Events such as Reclaim the Night are widely celebrated throughout the country, with people showing they are not afraid to be on the street at night and have a right to be there without fear of sexual assault. Why is this different?
    Thanks for the lesson in culture Evelyne, but you would be amazed at how many of us “whities” actually understand the cultural complexities in this town, and have shown the interest to find out about what makes us “tick”.
    This is why many people of this group by genuinely stating that it has nothing to do with colour, but the crime. Our tourism industry is affected, our safety perception is affected, local business close because people feel marginally safer at home instead of going out.
    People come from all over the world to experience genuine culture, but this look of all these young gangs roaming the streets, breakins, assaults, bag snatchings, rock throwing is giving us the reputation as a place to avoid. A shame, really.

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  9. Ian Sharp
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Well said, Hal Duell.

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  10. Richarde Brady
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    All comments make perfect sense when looked at from various perspectives such as, are you a victim yet?
    All comments are subject to change after you experience violence or robbery. Fun reading though.

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  11. I spy
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Evelyne Roullet: I appreciate indigenous people were here first but I don’t see all us Caucasions picking up and moving out any time soon. We share the land now and one thing we can all agree on is this behaviour is not acceptable.
    The group that “trespassed” on billy goat hill did so only to observe and report. AND WHO IS TO SAY THEY THEMSELVES WERE NOT INDIGENOUS?

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  12. I spy
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    What the: It was only a matter of time before someone cried racism right? But this isn’t just about skin colour. I am certain they would have a problem with any youth throwing rocks at passing vehicles. It is extremely dangerous.
    If their “suspicious loitering” kept our road users safe for one night I applaud them.
    You call it harrassing people on the street? WHAT DO YOU CALL THE YOUTHS THROWING ROCKS AT AMBULANCES? That’s a much more violent form of HARRASSMENT.
    I have no problems with them monitoring and reporting youth crime. I do agree, however, that the other group threatening violence are going too far.

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  13. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    To the Billy Goat Hill volunteers: Fact: you are trespassing.
    The Arrernte people are the traditional owners of Mparntwe (Alice Springs).
    They have been here since time immemorial. You are the newcomers.
    Some important cultural sites include Akeyulerre (Billygoat Hill), Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), Atnelkentyarliweke (Anzac Hill) and Alhekulyele (Mt. Gillen).
    I do not agree with rocks throwing, vandalism etc … but vigilante can bring only more trouble. This is a job for the police and the Elders.
    There is a marked difference between being vigilant and becoming a member of a vigilante group.
    It’s by being vigilant that we’re able to look at things from a slightly different angle. Where we might once have turned a blind eye to, or even failed to notice certain kinds of unusual activity going on around us before, being more vigilant means we’re far more likely to notice and note any suspicious activities that might be going on within our neighbourhood, and to share that information with both our neighbours and the police.
    The problem with a vigilante group is that it’s likely to result in some kind of confrontation as opposed to trying to establish a good dialogue, no matter what your intentions might be when you set out.
    The youths will mock you and may become both verbally and, in some cases, physically aggressive. The likelihood is that you will escalate the problem by rising to the bait or, worse still, you’ll become either the victim or the perpetrator of an physical assault.
    Therefore, not only have you not resolved the issue, you’re now part of a criminal investigation, whether it’s as the perpetrator or the victim of crime.
    Lets work together not against each other.

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  14. Hal Duell
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    One problem with threats of violence is that unless carried through, the threat is held in contempt by those being threatened and no change of behaviour is considered necessary. Quite the contrary. The original bad behaviour is often escalated in defiance.
    But if the threats of violence are carried through, then another crime is added to the original. Since the original was usually committed by legal children and the second by legal adults against those children, no prizes for guessing whom the police will hammer.
    This is a slippery slope, and no good can come of it.
    The rock throwers have been dispersed, and the police are on the case. Kudos enough right there.
    Time for both parties to go home.

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  15. What the
    Posted April 22, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I read that these people are loitering around Billygoat Hill suspiciously and harrasing suspicious looking people loitering around Billygoat Hill.
    How do they decide who is a suspicious looking person? Is it the color of their skin?
    Surely there are laws about people harrasing people in the street. And from what you report here, Erwin, it seems they are just looking for the chance to get violent.

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