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You can only be a victim if you own a house


Cross posted from the Tino Rangatiratanga List

I have been thinking about 15 year old Pihema Cameron and Bruce Emery, the man who killed him, since Friday. Mr Emery was sentenced to prison for four years and three months for the manslaughter of Pihema, who he caught trying to tag his house.

Tim Selwyn has written an angry, provocative piece at Tumeke about why this sentence is racist.

Deborah at the Hand Mirror also hears white privilege, and points out the Judge did not sentence Mr Emery to the maximum 7 years for manslaughter with a knife because:

there were mitigating factors, including Emery's "family standing" and that he supported himself in the community.

Self-appointed protectors of victims of violence in our communities, the , can usually be relied upon to thunder and rage at what they describe as lenient sentencing of violent offenders.

This verdict, they say, is a shame. The reason, according to head Garth McVicar?

…the frustration Emery was going through when he caught the tagger at his house. He says the trust would have liked to have seen Emery discharged altogether. Mr McVicar says this would have sent a message that minor crimes like graffitti need to be dealt with seriously.

Maybe you can only be a victim if you own a house. This case is splitting New Zealanders - in radio talkshows, on blogs, where many of the comments to the Tumeke piece for example rejoice in the 15 year old boy's death. He was "tagger scum" apparently. It provoked a heated conversation in my family, where Father Luddite proclaimed sagely "the Cameron family have to take some responsibility."

We have been told Mr Emery's story in detail. He is a decent, middle-class working sort of a family man, whose property had been tagged before. When he saw Pihema Cameron and his mate trying to tag him, he went inside his house, selected a knife, and chased the two boys several hundred metres down the street.

There was a confrontation. Mr Emery either thrust the knife into Pihema, or Pihema moved onto the knife.

Pihema died. Mr Emery went home to wash the knife, not telling his wife what had happened.

Much of New Zealand identifies with only one person in this case - and it's not the boy who was killed.

Mr Emery was protecting the property he worked to buy, the family he was responsible for. The tagging had happened before. He was scared of the two drunk and stoned teenage boys, and took a knife to protect himself. It's a shame, but what was he supposed to do?

What about if we turned this whole thing around though? How many of us started experimenting with drugs and alcohol as teenagers? How many of us were not always well-behaved or law-abiding?

In my case, I'd been both drunk and stoned by 15, and shoplifted the occasional magazine to try and fit in with the other kids at school.

Did my nice Pakeha father think, had the dairy owner caught me, that stabbing would be an appropriate punishment he, as my family, should "take responsibility" for?

As I said, the argument was heated.

The white man, protecting his property from badly behaved Maori? Haven't we heard that one before?

How about we try it the other way around again? A marae is defaced by a Pakeha teenager. The marae groundsman, Maori, chases the teenager down the street, stabs him, and he dies. Where would public sympathy be? And what would be the sentence?

Pretending Mr Emery's skin colour and home ownership have not protected him in this case is, quite frankly, obscene. I have compassion for Mr Emery - I imagine cleaning off graffiti is irritating as hell, and he probably was intimidated by the two boys - although they were running away.

But I have more compassion for the 15-year old boy who died that night, and the lack of kindness much of New Zealand society has shown him since in our eagerness to judge his actions.

Lack of compassion and empathy are ugly, ugly traits for a society to develop. At the moment, here in Aotearoa, we are showing less and less kindness to some groups of people. And sadly, those groups of people are all too easy to spot by the colour of their skins and their bank balance.

Rest in peace Pihema Cameron. Your death was a preventable tragedy.



Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

Aotearoa has plenty of compassion,,, it is the heartless british colonialist new zealand that must die for Aotearoa to live.

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

Mr Emery was totally justified in killen that little niggah shit head.Why should we take shit from the fucken niggahs without hiting back?Fuck the niggahs family,there notin but black niggah scum fucken dole bludgers.

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

say that to ma face ya gutless piece of racist shit, no boy Maori or Pakeha should be killed for tagging, but yeah the racist crap above is indicative of the attitude that property is worth more than a human life. Aroha to the Pihema Cameron Whanau, Kia kaha u have more support out there than you know

Justice 4 Pihema Cameron


Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

sux big time that wanker should have gotten heaps longer in jail ,hope he gets the bash inside

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

Straight up buddy. Tagging premises can be a nuisance to the owner of that premises. But a nuisance compared to the grief of manslaughter is no comparison and any person that tries to justify it as such needs to closely re-examine their values or...face the fact that they are blantant bigots and in which case should admit it so they are not confused with the rest of NZ who are quite happy to live along side all races with equal rights! plain and simple.

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

to the dick head that wrote that first post, i hope no maori intentionally puts a knife in one of your kids guts for spitting on the side walk or stealing a newspaper, see how you like it?

Then how bout we let him go after 4 years with a warning not to go around killing little white kids?

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

if you own a house in new plymouth you are definetly a victim,, of a war crime.

Re: Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

Racist comment above hidden.

Re: Re: Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

hey cam you should unhide that racist comment, its a good example of the racist & hatred against Maori

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

when was the last time indy made a feature out of a Maori related topic ?

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

Seven days ago (Oct 15 Solidarity newsletter) - check the front page of this site.

Young Groups

cameron deserved to die. it is people like him - 14-29 - maori/polynesian - that has made new zealand such an inhospitable place to live, not just for white new zealanders - but for the other 80 percent that are law-abiding and don't go around in groups intimidating others (often based on THEIR skin colour) in the name of blue or red. This is why, as much as i detest john key, i think he is correct in implementing a "boot camp" scheme to discipline those young ethnic and native groups that are committing the majority of petty and violent crime in new zealand.

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

"go around in groups intimidating others"

Two teenagers is an intimidating group?

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

The domestic law of this land is clear - self-defence is the only defence, and therefore the verdict was prison.

Despite the valid debate over the length of the sentence, there could not have been any other decision.

The public discussion around the case does serve to unmask the prejudice and hypocrisy of the so-called defenders of the rule of Law, who also like to posture as the defenders of public morality.

Only those people FOOLED by the name of McVicars "(in)sensible sentencing trust" would be surprised that he thinks that a vigilante found GUILTY of breaking the law in a court, should now be acquitted as mentioned above.

This outfit is quick to exploit victim’s grief and shout about harsher sentences etc.
However they fall strangely silent about how poverty and hopelessness and the inequitable distribution of wealth under capitalism continually recycle the conditions that cause crime in the first place.

McVicars' punitive propaganda prepares the way for National and (don)keys to ramp up the rhetoric on punishment and inevitably for prison privatisation.

It is ironic then, that the erstwhile advocates of Maori offenders (the Maori party) seem to be full supporters of this privatisation policy. Despite the fact that it is being pushed on the back of racists and reactionary propaganda that inevitably targets Maori…

But then the Maori party also generally avoid the link between capitalism and crime - preferring to explain violence and offending away as some kind of cultural alienation in response to historical land thefts.

Such an explanation (incorrectly) implies that violent crime and recidivism is mainly a Maori problem, not a society wide one (who else had their land stolen recently?).

By concentrating on Maori offending and "Maori rehab" the Maori party focus allows the outright reactionaries an opportunity to further imply that offending is disproportionately a "brown" problem (…it must be if it’s such a big issue for them...etc).

In pursuing the goal of "culturally appropriate" sentencing with no regard for the fact that all sentencing under capitalism is only capitalistically appropriate anyway, they allow the State and its’ apologists to drive a wedge between Maori and non-maori offenders and their families, who may also feel they are getting shafted by the system.

They certainly drive a wedge between themselves and non-maori victims who feel that there should be one standard of justice for all perpetrators of violence and crime.

Maori and the Maori party certainly have the right to advocate for whatever policy they think will alleviate the situation for Maori offenders, families and victims.

The “loyal” labour-union-green coalition is certainly no meaningful opposition to nACTional for Maori, let alone anyone else.

But will the Maori Party’s Associate Minister of Corrections - Dr Sharples, admit they were wrong, when 5 years from now the only beneficiaries from culturally appropriate PRIVATE prisons are shown to be the capitalistically appropriate companies that will be running them – as they exploit the unpaid labour of their inmates for the privilege of being “sensitively” incarcerated?

Time for Change

well, the stats show that both petty and violent crime in new zealand is mainly a maori/polynesian youth problem. alot of this is because of sheer determination not to work for a living but instead commit crime/live off the tax payer (how many non-browns do not pay tax)? Stricter laws surrounding crime and sentencing including the privatisation of prisons can only benefit the majority of law-abiding kiwis.

This is not racialist - this is reality. but then perhaps you would rather admonish capitalism from your furnished house in epsom. i think the majority of kiwis are getting a bit tired of the same old excuses for violent acts on crime (that crime is intrinsic to capitalism, the historical "theft" of land, etc.) Finally, we seem to have a leader that will not be intimidated by angry brown voices (or by long-rejected white ones) - a leader that has enough political tenacity to effect real change and build a society where fear and intimidation do not play such a tangible role.

Emery must be Pardoned

4.5 years was far too much for killing a stupid little boy. emery should be pardoned as well as getting a firm pat on the back - most would probably be too spineless to protect their family and property.

Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

It is disturbing to note just how many people here think that the death penalty for tagging is okay. And not even by the courts but by vigilantes.

I have never agreed with the Sensible Sentencing Trusts revenge policy, but I have always had some respect for their support of the victims of crime; until now, when their true agenda has become apparent.


Re: You can only be a victim if you own a house

"""It is disturbing to note just how many people here think that the death penalty for tagging is okay."""

you might be shocked to find out how many think shooting the pigs is ok too.