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Police figures show drop in K' Rd violence

Thu 30 May 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News

Following community concerns about gay men being victims of random attacks on Karangahape Rd, police have revealed figures showing a drop in recorded incidents of violence on and around the gay Auckland hotspot. K’ Rd is home to Auckland’s five gay bars; Family, Switch, Eagle, Caluzzi and Urge, while larger venues on the road often host GLBTI dance parties. A community meeting was held in February following a string of random attacks where gay men were victims. As a result of that meeting local Labour MP Jacinda Ardern wrote to Police Minister Anne Tolley raising the GLBTI community’s safety concerns. Tolley asked police for advice, and writes to Ardern that she has been informed Karangahape Rd has been a particular focus for police over the past few years, “particularly during peak entertainment times when there is significant deployment of Auckland Central beat and team policing staff in order to prevent violence and disorder. Figures from police are that there were 253 recorded “violent occurrences” in the K’ Rd area in 2010, 263 in 2011 and 212 in 2012. Up until 13 March this year, there were 27. “The nearly 20 per cent reduction in recorded violence occurrences from 2011 to 2012 confirms anecdotal feedback to police that the Karangahape Rd area has improved significantly in recent times,” Tolley writes. The Police Minister adds that Auckland Council’s licensing team has been working with police to target problem bars in the area, and problems have reduced considerably, particularly between 5AM and 7AM on Saturdays and Sundays. “A number of the most problematic premises are no longer trading during those hours.” Tolley continues: “I also note the anticipated impact of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, particularly the default 4AM closing time and the implementation of local alcohol policies. The formation of a sound local alcohol policy will be critical to ensuring that areas such as Karangahape Rd are relatively free of alcohol and disorder.” The Police Minister adds police advice is that one-way doors from 1AM and 3AM closing policies would have a significant impact on violence and disorder right through the city. She police are also proposing to move Auckland Central beat staff from downtown to the Auckland Central Police Station, which will make them closer to K’ Rd. “Police are constantly reviewing the deployment of their staff to ensure best fit for demand and prevention,” Tolley finishes. “I have every confidence that police are mindful of the alcohol issues within the central city and are working hard to address them.” Gay victims of violence on K’ Rd, 2011-2013: 22 February 2013 A gay Auckland man in his 30s was attacked by “four thugs” on the corner of the Ponsonby end of Karangahape Rd and Hereford St in the early hours of 22 February. Street workers stepped in to help the man, who fought back against the four attackers. Police were quick to act and the victim was able to pick the alleged offenders out from a line-up. All four arrested are teenagers and are now facing assault-related charges. 9 January 2013 Young gay man hospitalised after being knocked to the ground and kicked in the head by two assailants, 11.45PM on 9 January. He was about to get out of his car in a Karangahape Road side street when two youths asked him for cigarettes. Still in his car he said he didn't have any and showed them an empty packet. One of the pair then grabbed the key from the car's ignition and when the gay man got out to try to get them back he was attacked. 28 December 2012 A 23-year-old gay Auckland man was set upon in an unprovoked attacked as he walked on Mercury Lane, near the city's gay nightlife on December 28, a Friday night. A man "body-slammed" through a group of gay men, then punched the victim and slammed him face-first into the concrete. The man had to be pulled off by his "cousins" as he continued his attack. "I have a few fractures in my cheekbone and just near my left eye, some stitches in my chin. Half my face is numb, and I am extremely tired. My head hurts like crazy and I have to take a lot of drugs over the next few days to make sure I get better,” the victim told us. 7 September 2011 On Rugby World Cup opening night on 7 September Urge owner Paul Heard was on the door when three drunk men pulled up in a jeep outside the bar and proceeded to keep on drinking. He ignored them until they got out of the car and started urinating up against the store front. He approached them and said if they wanted to take a leak, perhaps they could go and use the empty car park around the corner. When he turned his back, one of them cracked him across the back of the head, knocking him to the ground where he blacked out for a few seconds. While others came out to help, he took photos of the culprits, their car and their licence plate with his camera phone before he was struck across the head again by these thugs. Four policemen turned up, at which point the men backed off about a hundred metres and feigned innocence. No arrests were made, despite a request from the victim for this to happen. As he spoke to police the trio stood at a safe distance yelling out “fucking faggots” and “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”. Police have since investigated their response and action disciplinary has been taken. June 2011 Trevor Kaukau, then 40, suffered brain damage after being punched to the ground outside a nightclub on Auckland’s K’ Rd in June 2011, by 20-year-old Sitaleki Langi Koloamatangi. Koloamatangi was imprisoned for a year after pleading guilty to the charge of injuring that, had death been caused, he would have been guilty of manslaughter. The defence contended he punched Kaukau after he sexually propositioned him twice, “and like many young men he responded badly to that. No one is suggesting that was appropriate, but he didn’t go out looking for a fight.” January 2011 Longtime poster designer for K' Rd bear bar Urge Simon Stockley had knee reconstruction surgery after being pushed out onto the road in front of Scorpio Club early on a Sunday morning in January 2011. The designer was not really sure what happened, as the attack occurred very quickly and he simply recalls waking up surrounded by people. If you have a violent incident you’d like added to this list, email (no names required)    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 30th May 2013 - 10:05am

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