Crips gang raises fears in Christchurhc
A violent American-style street gang has emerged as a player in Christchurch's criminal underworld with members linked to serious crimes including armed robberies and drug dealing.
Police have concerns about the Neighbourhood Crips (NHC) whose members and associates have clashed with people connected to rival gangs in the city, including at the weekend when a man was stabbed in the back and head.
The young group, known for wearing blue, has its roots in the eastern suburbs.
NHC members associate with other underworld organisations including the notorious Head Hunters motorcycle gang, which established itself in Canterbury post-quake.
Some have appeared in a music video produced by local hip-hop label Blacked Out C-City, which denies it has a connection to the gang.
It bears the hallmarks of one of the country's most infamous street gangs, The Killer Beez, which had a close association with music label Colourway Records.
The Press understands one of the NHC's senior figures is Rory Manuel - the son of Debbie Paul, who was murdered in a gang-related stabbing in 1985.
Police say NHC is a concern like all organised criminal groups in the city.
"Any individuals who are committing offences, regardless of which gang they are in, will get our attention," Canterbury district criminal investigations manager Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald said yesterday.
Fitzgerald said people who may be associated with NHC had been involved in drug dealing, aggravated robbery and other serious offending in recent times.
Gang expert Jarrod Gilbert said street gangs like the NHC tended to be more "reckless" than motorcycle gangs, which often had an older membership.
"They [street gangs] want a rap star's lifestyle but they've got no means to achieve it. Given that, they are much more likely to look at profit-driven crime," Gilbert said.
Nathan Anthony Whelan, 22, appeared in Christchurch District Court yesterday charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after a 25-year-old man, understood to be connected to the NHC, was stabbed outside McDonald's in Linwood on Sunday night.
Detective Sergeant Tania Jellyman said the victim suffered stab wounds to his head and back. Police were speaking to several witnesses as they worked to establish what sparked the confrontation, she said.
NHC associate Mark Daniel Graham Giddens has rapped for Blacked Out C-City under the alias "Parole". One of his music videos featured many members of the gang.
Court documents show he has accumulated dozens of convictions over the last decade.
In 2010, Giddens was jailed for discharging a shotgun during a gang confrontation at Jellie Park. He was released on parole in June 2012. In April this year he was sentenced to a further 22 months' jail on drugs and weapon charges.
Blacked Out C-City's sole director and shareholder Damian Maru, 30, from Kaiapoi, said his business had no direct involvement with the gang. He acknowledged, however, that some of the label's artists had gang connections.
"We are not a criminal gang nor do we condone or involve ourselves with any criminal activity," he said.
"Whoever is paying, we're recording them whether you're a red gang, blue gang or no gang."
Blacked Out C-City bills itself as an independent record label made up of rappers, singers, dee jays, producers and event managers.