Monday, May 07, 2007


The Subway handbook says that workers can have free soft-drinks while working. Jackie Lang shared a drink that she'd poured while on shift with a friend. Not only has she been fired, but Subway called the police. The police arrested her and charged her with theft, and she was in the cells for two hours.

That story was in the same paper as a story on mobile trucks in South Auckland, that sell goods on credit at extortionate prices. This is perfectly legal, if being a parasite off the poor was illegal our entire economic system would collapse. But I would hope that taking money from people's bank accounts wouldn't be:

Customers were sometimes being asked to sign multiple, undated direct debit forms allowing the company open access to their accounts.

Many companies continued to take money after the debt was repaid and failed to advise customers when they have gone into credit.
I know there are people, who consider themselves progressive, and believe that the police are neutral, that their primary role isn't to uphold the power system we have in place. I would ask those people why police care about a 19 year old who shares a soft-drink, but not companies who steal through direct debit.


  1. I have to say I'm aware of a police case at the moment around purported theft from an employer, and like the Subway case I am left wondering what the police priorities are. :-(

  2. Nice contrast. To give one more example, a seven-year-old African-American kid called Gerard Mungo Jr. was arrested in Baltimore recently for riding his bike on the sidewalk. The policy is pretty clear: get poor people, especially those from ethnic minorities, fingerprinted and entered into the system as early as possible, so that they have a threat hanging over them for the rest of their lives. Here in England we have ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) which serve much the same purpose of criminalising young people with no power.

    I agree with your analysis of the police's role. I think maybe for individual police officers, however, laziness and prejudice are their main motivations. They don't go after companies and rich people because they know they'll have good lawyers and be able to fight back. They go after Subway workers and seven-year-old kids in public housing because they think they can get away with it. The end result is as you state, but I doubt that the individual cops involved in these cases would recognise their role in it. In fact, the NYPD officers I had contact with in the US identified solidly with the working class. I guess that's how power works, though - co-opting people based on their fears and prejudices and getting them to act in ways inconsistent with or even directly hostile to their own interests.

  3. Anonymous12:26 pm

    I imagine Subway management was just looking for an excuse to get rid of her, and the police complaint was a part of covering their arses.

    As much as anything, I'm just glad the media picked up this story. The Police's action in this case is inexplicable, but mainly I'm looking forward to Subway having to shell out hella more than $4 in damage control.

  4. Anonymous1:38 pm

    Subway suck! thats all I can think of to add to this, Subway are big poo heads, I think theres some protest action happening in Dunedin and Christchurch. Just want to encourage people to boycott.

  5. There is definitely a protest happening in Dunedin, plus Young Labour (and possibly others) have called for a boycott.

    I think if you asked the police they would probably defend their actions by saying there is a difference between immoral action and illegal, and also that the case of the company Maia mentioned is more in the contract area of the law than criminal. While they'd possibly be technically right, we all know what is actually the more useful approach. It all just backs up the point Maia makes - the police exist to protect the rich and powerful most of the time, not to challenge them.

  6. Anonymous9:46 pm

    Shame it wasn't a trifle, as I believe the law doesn't like dealing with trifles.

  7. Anonymous12:45 pm

    rnt you going slightly over the top when suggesting that those that sell on credit shoudl be prosecuted.

    What about the responsibility of those buying on credit. Is it the seller's fault that they are stupid enough to buy what they cant afford?

  8. Anonymous6:54 pm

    Okay, this is by far one of the most saddest reportings of injustices, that I have read in quite sometime. I'm speechless and at a loss for words. Yet, I feel such anger and hate.

    Crap like this and all the thousands of wrongly convicted people rotting in our prisons is the very reason, that I quit writing and reporting crime....this is sick!