Wives, mothers and children of motorcycle riders affected by the VLAD Act had to speak on their behalf at the Freedom Rally attended by thousands of protesters in Brisbane yesterday. The riders themselves were not able to attend because of the draconian laws that prevent people from associating with members of 26 motorcycle clubs arbitrarily declared criminal organisations without any evidence. So their wives, mothers and children spoke on their behalf and told of how the Queensland Government’s laws were affecting family life.
They represented husbands, brothers and fathers who were either: jailed before the laws and now serve 23 hours a day in solitary because they are motorcycle club members; jailed without bail because they associated with members of declared clubs; or club members who cannot be seen out in public because the police may consider they are “associating”, a term even Police Commissioner Ian Stewart can’t define.
Tracey and Kassie Kosenko, wife and daughter of Rebels MC Member “Little Mick” addressed the packed Roma St forum: “We wonder every day when he goes to work is he going to come home or is he going to go to jail for six months.” Tracey says her husband has been a Rebels MC member for more than 33 years and has no criminal record, but on October 18 he woke to find the Queensland Government had deemed him to be a member of a criminal organisation “with no proof or justification”.
“This has made me, our family and all of our friends criminals in the eyes of the law,” she says. “He is now forbidden from going to a place he has called home for the past 30 years. He can no longer attend his brothers’ funerals, weddings, birthdays or Christmases.” She says that out of 40 members of the two Queensland chapters of the Rebels MC, only four have committed any sort of criminal offence while in the club.
Her daughter, Kassie, then spoke: “My dad has been a member my entire life. He’s not a bad man. Campbell Newman does not know the damage he is doing to families like mine.”
Tracey Carew spoke on behalf of the now-famous Yandina Five which includes her husband, Josh, brothers Scott and Steve and two family friends. Four are now out on bail after spending more than a month in solitary confinement while Steve is still behind bars “23 hours a day, seven days a week”. “No contact with anybody, can’t even cuddle his family, can’t even see his children. It’s disgusting,” she says. Tracey says inmates in solitary are “robbed” of their rights to many things including hot showers, religious activities and sunlight.
“The mental damage that is happening to our boys is irreversible. We will not know the full extent of this damage, but one thing’s for sure, since their release they have not been the same and the fear of returning to solitary confinement lingers every day. The damage is also affecting our family, our children and our parents. My mother has been hospitalised over the past week for extreme stress and anxiety. In total there are eight children who are affected by these laws just from our family alone. Eight children under the age of nine. And having to explain to them why their dads were taken away is not an easy thing to do and the older children now fear the police will return to take their dads away.”
Through tears Caroline Stewart, mother of Jacob Little, told the 3000 protesters that her son is in solitary confinement, doing 51 hours straight with no human contact. “I can’t touch my son, I can’t hug him, I can’t support him,” she says. “My son is not cancer, my son is not scum. He is my child and I will fight for him.”