Public harassment and unjust imprisonment is becoming commonplace in Queensland since the Premier Newman and his cronies introduced the Vicious Lawless Associates Directive (2013) one of a range of legal tools being used ostensibly to target bikies who are in criminal gangs. Widespread repercussions on innocent people are being reported, because of the broadness of it's application and the free rein being given to police to apply it. While one motorbike enthusiast claims to have been pulled over 21 times already, this story of the harassment of everyday small business people and their customers indicates how the legislation is being used well beyond it's state intended targets.
This story was shared on Facebook, but deserves widespread dissemination.
"Blatant Propaganda Arrest" Ben Adam Wilson is a 29 year old concretor, who lives in Brisbane with no criminal history.
It all started on Saturday the 7th December about 10am, Ben and I went to finish the 12 gauge shop for the grand opening on Sunday. When we arrived there, there was 3 police officers out the front of the shop questioning the guy that was helping us. The location of the store was a decommissioned ex-bikie club hangout on Thornsbourne Street, Beenleigh. The owner was, for obvious legal reasons, unable to set foot on the premises.
We drove in and parked the car, we then went out to speak with the officers, Ben asked if they would like to come into the shop to see that it was now a legitimate clothing store and not a Rebels Club House anymore. They accepted the invitation and walked in behind Ben and I, they asked a few questions, had a quick look around and when they were happy left. Ben and I were left alone for the rest of the day and closed up the shop that night and went home.
On the opening day, Sunday the 8th of December and Ben and I got there at about 7.30am-8.00am. There was only the 1 police car out the front at this stage, we set about getting the business opened and setting up for the Kidney Foundation donation stall.
It came to around 8.30am-9.00am and there would have been between 20-30 police officers in the street, breath testing, drug testing and profiling everyone that came into the street. We had a Jumping Castle set up for the kids, the police drug squad searched it. We also had an old school cars show, they defected all of the vehicles on display.
The police came up to Ben asked for identification, he complied and gave them his drivers license, it was expired by 3 days. Mind you, he was not in his car or driving at this the time, simply attending to event. They said that they will either impound his car or give him a fine. They gave him a fine and then left.
It was about 10.00am-10.30am and a Channel 7 News crew showed up. I was in side of the shop selling clothing, when everyone started to yell at me that Ben was being arrested. I ran out side to see Ben in handcuffs, being escorted out by 3 officers, Ben was completely compliant with them and did not resist his arrest in anyway. I believe the charge is "Being an associate walking into a prescribed place". If he was selling T-shirts from another location, the police officers would not have been able to arrest him.
After Ben was taken away, I stayed at the shop and waited to hear what was going to happen to him, thinking he would be released on bail. At approximately 3.30pm, 2 police officers came to the shop telling me that they were taking Ben to our house to search it, they got the garage remote out of Ben's car and said that when they got back I could go and see Ben at the Beenleigh police station.
They finished there search and I went to see Ben at 4.30pm, that's when he told me he could be looking at 6 months. Ben’s bail hearing took place at Brisbane Magistrates Court on December 17th. I sat in amazement as the prosecution discussed what they had found during the raid of our home: a single Rebel’s flag which indicated his involvement in the outlaw motorcycle group. I was outraged, the flag to which they were referring to was a Confederate flag Ben had purchased on eBay as he was a Dukes of Hazard fan.
Bail was promptly denied on the 19th of December and Ben has remained in Arthur Gorrie Remand Center since the 8th of December.
So if he was classed as an associate, why did they not arrest him the day before when he gave the police officers a tour? Why only arrest him the day of the opening and only when a news crew was there, you don't just become an associate overnight do you? This is a blatant form of manufacturing consent amongst the general populace, running puff pieces to back up Mr Newmans propaganda machine.
Since then, I have lost everything trying to fund Ben’s legal battle. I sold my furniture and lost my home, returning to live with my parents, however, our legal team have quoted us $20,000 to be able to attempt to obtain bail for Ben in the Supreme Court. He may lose his car and his bike because of me being on centerlink, I simply just can not afford to pay his $310 payments on them a week. My stress levels and health is not good, I Constantly have breathing problems every night, I had to go to the hospital 2 weeks ago for having an Anxiety Attack and couldn't breath, I am struggling to pay my own bills, basically my whole world has been ripped out from underneath me.
I have visited Ben twice so far, Monday the 31st of December And on the 6th of January. I could only have personal contact with him on arrival and at the end of the session. He has lost a lot of weight and hardly eats in there, he said that they only get
minimal portions of food in there and finds himself having hunger pains every day.
Since Ben was arrested, I have come close to the point of complete breakdown. I have suffered severe stress related illness and some days the situation just overwhelms me. Ben has no criminal record and has never been a Rebel. He does not even possess a motorbike license, however he is still sitting in a cell at Arthur Gorrie for a crime he hasn’t committed. I only hope this fate doesn’t befall any other innocent Qld citizens, however with the Yandina Five and others like Ben awaiting a verdict, I feel as though it will never come, I find it hard to maintain hope and I just do not have the money to be able to fight this anymore.
When Ashley asked Ben what it was like at the correctional center this is what he had to say...
"There's a fight in there everyday and there is drugs everywhere too. What I can't believe is that here are scissors just laying around." But he has managed to be good with everyone in his unit. He has his own cell that has its own shower and toilet. His bed is as thin as paper and he gets one visit a week, up to 3 people and they're contact visits, he gets as many phone calls a day as he wants. He writes letter to me as often as he can. He is as good as can be expected, he is hungry, frustrated, bored and just wants to come home. Although Ben is not in solitary confinement like others being held under the Unfair VLAD Legislations, there is nothing stopping the law from suddenly revoking all the rights that Ashley mentions above, and placing him in Solitary Confinement.
Ben is innocent and a loving father of 2, a loyal friend and a loving and supportive partner. I think these laws are wrong with the way there going about it all, it's like Germany, we have "Hitler" the 2nd dictating who we can and cant be friends with, what we can and can't do, these are not anti-bikie laws they are anti-people laws,
they effect everyone law abiding or not. No one is safe and no one knows if they are classed as an associate or not, it's destroying families and people's lives the legislation's need to go and so does Mr Campbell Newman.
Ashley requested that this letter be put in the article.
To: Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman
State Member Mr Shorten
From: Friend of Ben
RE: Impacts of the VLAD Laws
Dear Mr. Bleijie, Mr. Newman and Mr. Shorten,
I am writing this letter mainly on behalf of Ben Wilson and his family and friends, as well as his girlfriend and us, her parents.
Ben Wilson was in my opinion, wrongly arrested on December 8, 2013, while attending and working for a friend who was opening his clothing store. Yes, while his friend is a biker, Ben in no way thought he had been listed as an associate. On the previous day prior to the opening, Ben and his girlfriend asked the police officers if they would like to take a tour of the premises, so that they could see that it was a
legitimate business. Why wasn't he arrested on that day? One the day of the opening, there was a huge police presence and it wasn't until the media started filming, that the police placed Ben in handcuffs and made the very public arrest.
I have just read the VLAD laws that have were recently introduced into Queensland law. I am not a solicitor, lawyer, nor work for any type of law enforcement association. I am proud to be a resident of Australia (not so much Queensland at the moment), but consider myself to be intelligent enough to read the flaws in these laws, especially in relation to the arrest of Ben Wilson.
Let me refer to the section The Parliament of Queensland enacts-
2 The objects are to be achieved by-
2(a) imposing significant terms of imprisonment for vicious lawless associates who commit declared offences.
Ben Wilson is not a vicious lawless associate and has not committed any declared offences under this law. He was selling T-shirts at a former clubhouse, turned clothing store. Where is the vicious lawlessness in that?
Association means any of the following: a corporation, an unincorporated association, a club or league and any other group of 3 or more person by whatever name called, whether associated formally or informally and whether the group is legal or not.
Why was Ben Wilson the only arrest made on December 8, 2013 at this clothing launch? According to the law mentioned above, there should have been multiple arrests.
The way I read the above highlighted statement as taken word for word from these laws sound to me like we should all be locked up whether we are vicious and lawless or not. Aren’t we all associated in our existence called life? Should the volunteers at Saint Vinnie's, etc. be locked up because they are working as a group of 3 or more for a non for Profit Corporation or organization? This law doesn't specify any such group. I did not see outlaw motorcycle gang mentioned in these laws. It mentions corporations, clubs and leagues, legal or illegal. This is a human race law and none of us are immune to this law. Are we heading to the days of the Nazi concentration camps? Queensland prisons are full to capacity as it is. And this law is adding wrongfully arrested people there as I write this letter now and some in horrible solitary confinement.
5 Meaning of a vicious lawless associate
(1) For this act, a person is a vicious lawless associate if the person-
(a) commits a declared offence
(2) However, a person is not a vicious lawless associate if the person proves that the relevant association is an association whose members do not have as their purpose, or 1 of their purposes, engaging in, or conspiring to engage in, declared offences.
I did not see any mention of entering a prescribed premises as being an offense nor anything about it being an offense to post on Facebook under this new law.
I won't even address the sentencing under this law. After reading this law, Ben Wilson has done nothing vicious or lawless and should be released without charge and it should be thrown out of court. Since this senseless arrest, Ben and his girlfriend have lost more than just time together. Ben has lost his livelihood, his job, his home and
probably his vehicle as well. His girlfriend, our daughter had to leave her job in the Brisbane area and move back home because she could not afford to pay rent and bills on her own.
This law is in place for the real vicious and lawless criminals out there and yes should be enforced, but this law is being used to arrest people, such as Ben for helping out a mate at a clothing store.
I appeal to all of you to rethink this law and start focusing on the real criminals. And I ask that Ben Wilson be freed immediately without charge.
Thank you for your time.
Ben has a loving family that support him emotionally and who are prepared to fight for his rights whilst he is locked up under these unfair legislations. He is not at risk of harming the community and he should have been granted bail like non-bikies get when they do not pose a threat to the community.
Mr BLEIJIE Made this speech against the Criminal Organization Disruption Bill introduced by the Labour government back in 2009.
"That is exactly right. Some 70 per cent of opposition members are speaking to this bill. The bill seeks to disrupt and restrict the activities of organisations involved in serious criminal activity and the members and associates of those organisations. It will amend the Bail Act, the Criminal Code, the Evidence Act, the Judicial Review Act, the Legal Profession Act, the Parliament of Queensland Act and the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act."
"This draconian piece of legislation will enable the Supreme Court of Queensland to make declarations and orders for the purposes of disrupting a nd restricting the activities of organisations in suspected serious criminal activity and of those people who are members or associates of that organisation. These powers include declaring groups of citizens a criminal organisation, applying control orders against individual members of declared organisations, stopping members of declared organisations from associating, and ordering the removal of fortifications such as metal gates which prevent police access. I note that the shadow Attorney-General has indicated that we have nothing against the fortification laws."
"While the objective clause of this bill states that it is not parliament’s intention that powers under this act be exercised in a way that diminishes the freedom of persons in the state to participate in advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action, this bill may just do that. The government cannot assure the people of Queensland that there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect the fundamental personal liberties of individuals that could be breached by this bill. This bill is a knee-jerk reaction of the Bligh Labor government and a campaign to appear to be tough on organised crime. But, in effect, this bill removes the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Queensland."
And now he an Premier Campbell Newman have gone even further, their hypocrisy goes to show that they will only follow the party line and not think for themselves on such moral issues as this one.
I myself, am in wonder as to how the government was able to put these pieces of legislation through so quickly, with what seemed like minimal resistance. With no Upper House to check on legislation's like these Mr Campbell Newman could easily push through whatever legislation he like's, no matter if it infringes on basic human right's or not.(https://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/)
It seems a very real danger now that the government is no longer for the people, but for the government. The people no longer seem to have any rights protecting them from a government gone mad with power, with them only seeking revenue from it's police force, not the protection of the populace.
Article by Nathan Miller.