INDEPENDENT NEWS

GPJA Protest - "A Funeral For Democracy"

Published: Sun 20 Mar 2005 08:17 PM
GPJA Protest - "A Funeral For Democracy"
http://www.gpja.pl.net
Monday 21st March (tomorrow), Tuesday 22nd, Wednesday 23rd Gather each day at Aotea Square at 9.00am for a march to the District Court (Cnr Kingston and Albert Streets) to protest the provocative and violent actions of the police against the anti-war protest in Auckland yesterday.
Wear funeral colours and bring any antiwar banners etc
20 March 2005
GPJA Complaint to Police Commissioner re Police Tactics
Global Peace and Justice Auckland has this afternoon faxed a complaint tothe Police Commissioner Rob Robinson over police tactics used in anti-war protests in Auckland and Wellington yesterday.
The complaint – copy attached – details provocative, heavy handed and violent police action.
We are well aware of the long-standing, deep-seated, simmering resentment of protest groups by the police. Despite this however it is less common to have these police attitudes spill over so blatantly into the public arena as they did yesterday.
The complaint also refers to the similarity in the provocative police tactics used against both the Auckland and Wellington protests and this indicates to us a co-ordinated attempt by the police to assert their authority over the right to peaceful protest.
We have informed the police that we reject this absolutely.
A copy of the letter of complaint follows:
20 March 2005
Rob Robinson
Commissioner of Police
Police National Headquarters
PO Box 3017
Wellington
Fax (04) 498 7400
Dear Mr Robinson,
Police Tactics in Anti-War Protests on Saturday February 19th
We are writing to register a formal complaint concerning the police handling of protest demonstrations held yesterday against the on-going illegal occupation of Iraq by foreign troops. The Auckland protest was organised by Global Peace and Justice Auckland.
Specifically this complaint concerns -
(1) The provocative action of the police in escorting a vehicle (4 police on either side) through the middle of the protest demonstration in Queen Street. The vehicle driver was angry, agitated and aggressive towards the demonstration. Instead of the police restraining him and requiring him to stop they escorted him through the crowd action which provoked the breach of the peace which the police should have been striving to avoid.
(2) The heavy handed and provocative action of the police in the violent manhandling of people in the protest and the violent arrest of four GPJA supporters
(3) The provocative use of plain clothes police and police photographers this was also a feature of the Wellington demonstration undertaken by Peace Action Wellington where similar provocative police action resulted in similar angry scenes.
(4) The seizure (by snatching) of a digital camera by a Detective Lamont from a GPJA supporter. When this camera was returned later several photos taken of the protest and arrests were missing from the camera.
(5) The taking of many dozens of photos by police during the Wellington demonstration in what appears to be a ³profiling exercise².
We have many witnesses to the events described here.
Many anti-war protestors who attended the Auckland and Wellington protests yesterday have had wide experience of police action in protests which in the past as yesterday have led to violence and disorder.
We are also well aware of the long-standing, deep-seated, simmering resentment of protest groups by the police. Despite this however it is less common to have these police attitudes spill over so blatantly into the public arena as they did yesterday.
We have also noted the similarity in the provocative police tactics used against both the Auckland and Wellington protests and this indicates to us a co-ordinated attempt by the police to assert their authority over the right to peaceful protest. We rejected this absolutely.
If we go on past experience we would have little faith that this complaint would result in positive change. However we also hope that this complaint will not see history repeating itself.
Yours sincerely,
John Minto
For the GPJA Committee.

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