A MOUNT Isa Rebels member was shopping in the city’s Coles supermarket with his wife and teenage daughter when waylaid by four police officers.
Anthony Grahame, 54, was pulled up by police near the checkout last Thursday evening because he was wearing a Rebels shirt.
Mr Grahame considered it harassment, believing he was not doing anything illegal because Queensland’s anti-bikie laws do not prohibit him from wearing a member’s shirt belonging to an illegal motorcycle gang unless inside a licensed premises.
‘‘You’re going to get your basic rights to eat at the shopping centre and this is what happens,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m not allowed to go to a shopping centre with my wife and daughter now?’’
Technically, Mr Grahame might not even be allowed to do that if his daughter Joelle was an adult – as it is illegal for three or more participants of a known motorcycle gang to be together in a public place.
But Joelle is not an adult; she is a 15-year-old who watched her father being ‘‘harassed’’ by four police officers in a crowded shopping centre.
‘‘I walked up behind them (the police officers) and went, ‘What the hell is going on?’’’ Joelle said. ‘‘What do you want with him, he’s not with other members, so it was just ‘why?’’’
She acknowledged police might have been concerned with safety, which was why there were so many of them to one man.
‘‘But it’s a shopping centre, it’s possibly the worst thing my dad could do (to react), and he wouldn’t,’’ Joelle said.
‘‘He was shopping. Did he look like he was committing a crime?
‘‘Because I know the law, I knew that if dad was wearing that shirt, obviously it was not illegal.’’
The Queensland Police Service was contacted to check if these were correct interpretations of the anti-bikie laws, but it did not respond to the newspaper’s questions.
Mount Isa Police Inspector Trevor Kidd dismissed any suggestion four police officers to one motorcycle gang member in a shopping centre was ‘‘overkill’’.
‘‘We take seriously anyone involved in criminal motorcycle gangs,’’ he said. ‘‘We don’t take anything by half measures.’’
Inspector Kidd said there was no difference between local Rebels members and those throughout the country with proven links to criminal activities.
There was international documentation of the dangers of the Rebels Motorcycle Club – quickly evident by checking Google – he said.
Mr Grahame believed the timing of the police check was a ‘‘pretty strange coincidence’’ considering eight hours previously a crime he was accused of was dismissed in the Mount Isa Magistrate’s Court due to insufficient evidence.
The Rebels member had been charged with wearing club colours in a local pub, but the result of the matter was delayed several times to wait for the results of an unsuccessful High Court challenge against the legislation.
The reason for charge was the publication of Mr Grahame’s picture in the social section of The North West Star on June 20, 2014.
The photograph was taken at the Barkly Hotel on June 18, the night of the second State of Origin rugby league match.
Police could have interpreted Mr Grahame’s photograph as a person who declared or advertised his membership in the Rebels according to 60A 3B of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013.
In the photograph, Mr Grahame was wearing a jumper with a confederate flag above a caption identifying himself as ‘‘Nixon Rebel’’.
Mr Grahame argued the gang’s flag was different to the jumper he was wearing.
The Rebels flag has the grinning skull of a soldier and the words ‘‘1%’’ and ‘‘Rebels Australia MC’’ on top of the confederate flag.
‘‘It was not a prohibited item, it was a jumper you could buy off eBay, Amazon, anywhere,’’ Mr Grahame said.
‘‘I’m not that stupid to go on licensed premises and put myself in that position and to
have a photograph taken by the newspaper.’’
He looked at the reporter belonging to the same newspaper. ‘‘For god’s sake, that’s the ironic part of it.’’