Open Letter of Complaint to PCA From Penny Bright
Open Letter of Complaint to PCA From Penny Bright
Activist arrested, assaulted over Swiss Army 'knife' - 'Open Letter of Complaint" to PCA
On Saturday 12 April 2003, at the end of a peaceful anti-war demonstration outside the American Consulate, I was arrested without charge, assaulted, then 'unarrested', had my Swiss Army knife confiscated (without being charged, and given no receipt) and was later called a ' piece of shit' by the Officer in Charge, Inspector George Fraser, with whom I have had no previous dealings.
What follows is my "Open Letter of Complaint" to the Police Complaints Authority, because I have had a gutsful of being picked on as an activist.
"Looking forward to your prompt investigation of this complaint, and to your taking appropriate action to remedy the breaches of the law that have occurred and the distress and humiliation that these human rights violations have caused me.
I anticipate that there will be interest both nationally and internationally in the outcome, as the principles at issue here have universal application - in defence of human rights and democracy.
I also wish to formally serve notice that within 24 hours of your receipt of this letter of complaint, that I expect to either be formally charged with some offence, or to have my Swiss Army ‘knife’ returned to me, forthwith."
Enough is enough.
With the help of others, hours of research have gone into this document - one of the aims being to make New Zealanders more aware of the human and democratic rights that we are supposed to have in this country, and which the Police are legally supposed to uphold.
There is a lot of information here, but hopefully those who take the time to read it, will learn something from it, as I certainly have.
OPEN LETTER OF COMPLAINT TO THE POLICE COMPLAINTS AUTHORITY
Attention: Mr Rob Thompson
cc: Minister of Police, Minister of Justice, Commissioner of Police, Auckland District Commander Howard Broad, Auckland Local Government and Central Government Politicians, Media, Human Rights and Community Organisations.
29 April 2003
Under the Police Complaints Authority Act 1988 002:
“12. Functions of Authority---(1) The functions of the Authority shall be---
* To receive complaints---
* Alleging any misconduct or neglect of duty by any member of the Police; or * Concerning any practice, policy, or procedure of the Police affecting the person or body of persons making the complaint in a personal capacity:
* To take such action in respect of complaints, incidents, and other matters as is contemplated by this Act.”
I, Penny Bright of 86A School Rd, Kingsland Auckland, am hereby making a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority:
Advice received from the Ministry of Justice to the Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into the visit of the Chinese President in 1999 (because of concerns about restrictions that had been placed on the rights of New Zealanders to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association) - was as follows:
"The ministry considers that the right to lawful expression in a free and democratic society and that freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association are essential to the expression of lawful protest. It describes the Bill of Rights as affirming the fundamental rights and freedoms enjoyed by New Zealanders.
The ministry advised us that, under New Zealand law, New Zealanders have the right to lawful protest. They are free to gather in public places to express dissent, provided that their gathering does not, for example, unreasonably impede the passage of others along a highway or access to a public place and that it is peaceful and not disorderly."
Police General Instructions for the policing of 'Demonstrations' were amended as a result of that Inquiry and now are, I understand, as follows:
"DO 31 - Basic Principles
(1) During demonstrations Police must balance the need to maintain order against the rights of citizens.
Among those rights are:
* Freedom of speech
* Peaceful demonstration
* Security of life and property
* Freedom from intimidation or interference
(2) In policing demonstrations, members of the Police should:
* Maintain teamwork and discipline;
* Exercise tact, tolerance and restraint
* Remain impartial;
* Use their powers reasonably and properly”
(The accuracy of this Police General Instruction was verified by Noreen Hegerty, Communications Manager for Auckland District Police on 13 March 2002.)
On Saturday 12 April 2003, at the end of a peaceful demonstration outside the American Consulate, I was arrested without charge, assaulted, then 'unarrested', had my Swiss Army knife confiscated (without being charged, and given no receipt) and was later called a ' piece of shit' by the Officer in Charge, Inspector George Fraser, with whom I have had no previous dealings.
Under the Police Act 1958 109,
Miscellaneous provisions as to Members of the Police
37. Oath to be taken---- (1) Every member of the Police shall take the following oath before a Justice or a commissioned officer of Police:
‘ ‘ I, A.B., do swear that I will and truly serve our Sovereign Lady the Queen in the Police, without favour or affection, malice or ill- will, until I am legally discharged; that I will see and cause Her Majesty’s peace to be kept and preserved; that I will prevent to the best of my power all offences against the peace; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to the law. So help me God. ‘ ‘
According to the Police Regulations 1992
“5. Control and Supervision –
* Every member of the Police shall obey –
* The applicable region orders and district orders; and
* The lawful commands of a supervisor.
* Every member shall obey and be guided by –
* General instructions; and
* The Commissioner’s circulars.
* Every member shall act in accordance with the duties set out in his or her position description.
* In the absence of a supervisor, the supervisor’s authority and responsibility shall devolve upon the next in rank or level of rank, or, in the case of equality, upon the longest serving member in a rank or level of rank.
* Each Police party, regardless of its size shall have a responsible supervisor when the party is proceeding on duty and, when there is no commissioned officer or non-commissioned officer to take charge of the party, the member sending the party on duty shall name a member for the purpose who shall be responsible for the proper performance of the duty and be obeyed for the time being as if she or he were a supervisor. In default of special appointment, the longest serving member shall take upon himself or herself the command and be held responsible for the discharge of the duty.
* PART II * DISCIPLINARY PROVISIONS IN RESPECT OF SWORN MEMBERS
* 9. Disciplinary offences by sworn members of Police --- * The following shall be offences of misconduct or neglect of duty on the part of any sworn member for the purposes of the Act:
* Treating any person or prisoner cruelly, harshly, or with unnecessary force or violence:
(11) Using indecent, insulting, abusive, or threatening language in or upon Police premises or while on duty:
(12) Being guilty of disgraceful conduct or conduct tending to bring discredit on the Police:
(39) Committing any act or misconduct which may be a summary offence under any Act, regulation, or bylaw, and which the Commissioner has directed be dealt with as a disciplinary offence:
(40) Negligence in the discharge of the member’s duties:
(41) Willfully violating any provision of these regulations, or of general instructions, or of any general order issued by the Commissioner, the member’s Region Commander, the member’s jDistrict commander, or the Commandant of the Royal New Zealand Police College:
(42) Any act, conduct, disorder, or neglect to the prejudice of good order, morality, or discipline of the Police, though not specified in these regulations.”
I am thus making a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority on the following grounds:
A] That the Police Officers concerned breached Police General Instructions DO 31 on policing demonstrations, and in so doing breached the above-mentioned Police Regulations, Section 5(2) (a) and Section 9 (40), (41):
Some Police Officers acted in an unnecessarily provocative, intimidatory and unreasonable manner, at the end of a peaceful demonstration and I believe that I was targeted, as a known activist, without reasonable cause, and due process and procedure were not followed.
That the Police Officers concerned did NOT:
* Exercise tact, tolerance and restraint
* Remain impartial;
* Use their powers reasonably and properly
B] That the Police Officers concerned committed the following offences under the Summary Offences Act 1981, and in so doing also breached the above-mentioned Police Regulations1992, Section 9 (5), (11), (12), (39), (40) (41):
2) Disorderly behaviour
* Offensive language
In more detail:
1) Intimidation (Section 21 of the Summary Offences Act 1981)
"(1) Every person commits an offence who, with intent to frighten or intimidate any other person, or knowing that his or her conduct is likely to cause that other person reasonably to be frightened or intimidated, -
(e) Stops, confronts, or accosts that other person in any public place.”
I believe that Sargeant Taylor's threat to arrest me if I did not come with him to 'have a chat with him about my knife' constituted intimidation.
2) Disorderly behaviour (Section 3 Summary Offences Act 1981)
"Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or a fine not exceeding [$2000] who, in or within view of any public place, behaves, or incites or encourages any person to behave, in a riotous, offensive, threatening, insulting or disorderly manner that is likely in the circumstances to cause violence against persons or property to start or continue."
I believe that the action of four Policemen to carrying me off, under Sargeant Taylor's instruction, when I had not been charged with any offence, constituted disorderly behaviour.
3) Common Assault (Section 196 of the Crimes Act 1961 VIII; Crimes Against the Person Assaults and Injuries to the Person
"196. Common Assault--- Everyone is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year who assaults any other person."
"Assault" means the act of intentionally applying or attempting to apply force to the person of another, directly or indirectly, or threatening by any act or gesture to apply such force to the person of another, if the person making the threat has, or causes the other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; and "to assault" has a corresponding meaning:" (Summary Offences Act 1981 2 Interpretation)
I believe that the act of being forcibly carried off by four Policemen because I refused to "Come for a chat about your knife," with Sargent Taylor, when I was never charged with any offence, constitutes assault.
4) Offensive Behaviour (Section 4 of the Summary Offences Act 1981)
“(1) Every person is liable to a fine not exceeding [$1,000] who, -
(c) In or within hearing of a public place, -
(i) Uses any threatening or insulting words and is reckless whether any person is alarmed or insulted by those words; or (ii) Addresses any indecent or obscene words to any person.”
I believe that Inspector George Fraser's calling me a "Piece of shit" constitutes offensive language.
C] That the Police Officers concerned committed the following breaches of the Crimes Act 1961, and in so doing breached the above-mentioned Police Regulations 1992, Section 9 (5), (12), (39), (40), and (41).
1) Duty of persons arresting (Section 316)
2) Aggravated robbery (Section 235)
In more detail:
1) Duty of persons arresting (Section 316 Crimes Act 1961)
"316. Duty of persons arresting ------- (1) It is the duty of every one arresting any other person to inform the person he is arresting, at the time of the arrest, of the act or omission for which the person is being arrested, unless it is impracticable to do so, or unless the reason for the arrest is obvious in the circumstances. The act or omission need not be stated in technical or precise language, and may be stated in any words sufficient to give that person notice of the true reason for his arrest."
I believe that Sargeant Taylor breached the duty of arresting by not informing me of the reason for my arrest, and that the act of arresting me was not 'reasonable' under the circumstances.
2) Aggravated robbery (Section 235)
"235. Aggravated robbery ---- (1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who ---
(b) Being together with any other person or persons, robs, or assaults with intent to rob, any person; "
That the taking of my Swiss Army 'knife', without giving me a receipt, after being manhandled and assaulted by four Policemen, I believe to be aggravated robbery. If others had carried out such actions without wearing Police uniforms - would it not be fair to allege that they had committed such an offence?
D] That the Police Officers concerned committed the following breaches of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and in so doing also breached the above-mentioned Police Regulations 1992, Section 9 (5), (39), (40), (41).
1) Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion (Section 13)
2) Freedom of peaceful assembly (Section 16)
3) Freedom from Discrimination on the grounds of Political Opinion (Section 19)
4) Personal Liberty (Section 22)
5) Arrest (Section 23)
Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily arrested or detained.
6) Unreasonable Search and Seizure (Section 21) Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, whether of the person, property, or correspondence, or otherwise.
In more detail:
1) New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 Section 13 [Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, including the right to adopt and hold opinions without interference." I believe that my right to hold opinions and express them without interference was breached, by my being arrested, assaulted then 'unarrested' and my Swiss Army knife confiscated without my being charged with any offence. Pg 5
2) New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 16. Freedom of peaceful assembly
"--Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly."
I believe that my right to freedom of peaceful assembly was breached, by my being arrested, assaulted then 'unarrested' and my Swiss Army knife confiscated without my being charged with any offence.
3) Discrimination on the grounds of political opinion New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 Section 19 Freedom from Discrimination
“1) Everyone has the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act 1993."
"21.Prohibited grounds of discrimination—
(1) For the purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are—
(j) Political opinion, which includes the lack of a particular political opinion or any political opinion:"
I believe that my right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of political opinion was breached, by my being arrested, assaulted then 'unarrested' and my Swiss Army knife confiscated without my being charged with any offence.
4) New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 [Personal Liberty] Section 22 "Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily arrested or detained."
I believe that my right to not to be arbitrarily arrested or detained was breached, by my being arrested, assaulted then 'unarrested' and my Swiss Army knife confiscated without my being charged with any offence.
5) New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 [Arrest] Section 23
"1) Everyone who is arrested or who is detained under any enactment
a) Shall be informed at the time of the arrest or detention of the reason for it; and
(b) Shall have the right to consult and instruct a lawyer without delay and to be informed of that right; and
(c) Shall have the right to have the validity of the arrest or detention determined without delay by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the arrest or detention is not lawful."
6) New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 [Unreasonable Search and Seizure] Section
"Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, whether of the person, property, or correspondence, or otherwise."
New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 Just a gentle reminder that the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 is the LAW, which Police Officers are supposed to uphold:
"109 Commenced: 25 Sep 1990 II: Civil and Political Rights Democratic and Civil Rights [Preamble]
(a) To affirm, protect, and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms in New Zealand; and (b) To affirm New Zealand's commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
THE BASIS OF MY COMPLAINT: MY RECOLLECTION OF EVENTS ON SATURDAY 12 APRIL 2003:
The focus of the anti-war march/demonstration on Saturday 12 April 2003 was to focus on targets that had been supporting in the various ways, the unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq.
The targets were; a Mobil petrol station, Television New Zealand (TVNZ), The NZ Herald, the British, Australian and American consulates. At each point was a contingent of Police 'guarding' each premise. At no stage, at any point during this anti-war march/demonstration did it turn 'ugly' or confrontational with the Police and protestors. As a veteran of 1981 anti-Springbok Tour demonstrations - this was a low key, peaceful protest.
At TVNZ is a fence, which borders TVNZ property from the footpath. I was leaning against this fence with my backpack on my back, and was told by a Policeman that it was private property and could I move away from it. I obliged, and was asked to move forward another two feet. I asked him "Isn't this a public footpath which my rates have paid for?" and looking him in the eye, took a step back towards the fence, to make the point, in a non-violent way, that he didn't have the right to tell me where I could stand on a public footpath. (There were no pedestrians nearby whose passage could be obstructed by where I was standing.)
The Police Officer next to him said,
"Penny, I see that you're still carrying an offensive weapon."
He was referring to the black leather pouch on my belt, which normally contains my Swiss army ‘knife’/multi-purpose tool.
"And who are you?" I asked - not recognising him.
"We have met on a previous occasion," he replied.
The Police Officer concerned was Sargeant Stuart Taylor, who had been on duty at Auckland Central Police Station, on this 'previous occasion’ the night I was arrested when exercising freedom of expression by attempting to take a corflute placard opposing Council housing sales into the Auckland Town Hall. (This was the night that 17 people got arrested.)
Photos of my arrest on that occasion are submitted as Exhibit A, Items 1,2,3,4,5,6
The photos (Items 5 and 6), clearly show my wearing the same pouch, which on that occasion contained my Swiss Army ‘knife’. On that occasion as well, the ‘knife’ was never removed from its pouch.
On that occasion, the Sargeant's manner was courteous and respectful, as various items were taken from me and recorded, before I was taken into the cell.
The Sargeant had said words to the effect –
"I'm not picking on you, but do you realise that your Swiss army knife is an offensive weapon?”
The concept of my using my multi-purpose Swiss army knife as an offensive weapon just seemed so ridiculous to me, that I had simply dismissed it.
This was the 3 1/2" Swiss Champ model with the following functions:
Swiss Army knife large blade
Swiss Army knife small blade
Swiss Army can opener with small screwdriver
Swiss Army Bottle opener with large scewdriver
Swiss Army wire stripper
Swiss Army reamer with sewing eye
Swiss Army key ring
Swiss Army tooth pick
Swiss Army toothpick
Swiss Army tweezers
Swiss Army corkscrew
Swiss Army scissors
Swiss Army hook
Swiss Army wood saw
Swiss Army metal saw with metal file
Swiss Army nail cleaner
Swiss Army nail file
Swiss Army wood chisel
Swiss Army fine screwdriver
Swiss Army Phillips screwdriver
Swiss Army magnifying glass
Swiss Army pliers with wire cutter
Swiss Army wire crimper
Swiss Army fish scaler with hook disgorger
Swiss Army ruler
Swiss Army mini screwdriver
Swiss Army ball point pen with DIP switch setter
Swiss Army straight pin
IE: A Swiss Army multi-purpose tool.
This was my second Swiss Army Champ. I had kept the first one in my diabetic kit, ( I am an insulin-dependent diabetic),and it was stolen along with my diabetic kit from my briefcase some years ago, when I worked at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) as a welding tutor.
When I purchased my second Swiss Army Champ - I bought the little black leather pouch that it normally lives in, on my belt, safe and secure. I wore it everyday at MIT, a public place, in front of hundreds of staff and students. The screwdrivers I found were particularly useful. I know many people who use Swiss
Army knives as key rings, and keep them in their pockets. My late mother was one of those people.
The Swiss Champ is a relatively bulky 'knife', and far safer, in my opinion, out-of-sight, living in it's little custom-made 'suitcase', than in a pocket, where it could be far more easily lost, and possibly, perish the thought, end up in the hands of someone who might use it as an offensive weapon.)
"Give me a break," I said to Sargeant Taylor, and moved off. I note that at that occasion, no attempt was made by the Sargeant to check whether or not the black leather pouch actually contained a knife. Is this because at that time there was at that time a much greater number of ‘demonstrators’, and such an unnecessary action could have provoked the crowd?
Eventually the march ended up outside the American Consulate at 23 Customs Street East.
Flags were burned, (on the ground, out of sight of both the Police standing in front of the Consulate, and many of the protestors), and speeches were made.I gave a brief speech, outlining how water without chemicals had become a 'weapon of mass destruction'.
How declassified US military documents had shown how in 1990, they had deliberately targeted Iraqi civilian water supplies - knowing full well the deadly effects of contaminated water on civilians - especially children.
How the US promoted sanctions via the UN Security Council, had denied chemicals like chlorine to kill the bugs in contaminated water and parts to repair the water treatment plants.
How at the World Water Forum in Kyoto, water activists, including myself, had drawn the link between the war in Iraq and water. How $17 billion would provide water to the world's people, while $39 billion had been wasted trying to destroy Osama Bin Laden, and $75 billion was being wasted destroying Iraqi people and Iraqi infrastructure.
How one lot of American corporations was being subsidised by the American taxpayer to bomb Iraq to pieces, while another lot of American corporations was being subsidised to rebuild Iraq!
Others spoke as well, and there was no antagonism or aggravation towards the Police apart from some good-natured jibing, thanking the Police for giving up their Saturday to show their opposition to the American Government by having their own little demonstration in front of the Consulate.
The demonstration finished - most of the crowd had dispersed - I was just about to get into the car which had the speaker system attached to it to get a lift home, when Sargeant Taylor came up to me and asked
"Come with me, I want to have a chat with you about your knife."
Knowing that I was not obliged to go ‘for a chat’ with any Police Officer at any time, I replied,
"No - I'm about to go home."
"Come with me, or I'll arrest you," he said.
"No!" I replied.
“Right!” said Sargeant Taylor. “You’re arrested!”
I resisted as he forced my wrist back to try and make me come with him.
I slumped down - continuing to resist, and he called four Policemen who forcibly picked me up, one arm, one leg each, and took me around the corner of the Consulate.
"Put her down gently," he said, and they did.
I was extremely upset, and in tears, feeling outraged and full of anger.
"What did I do to deserve that?" I asked. "This was a peaceful protest - this is an absolute provocation!"
"I don't want to upset you," he said.
"It's too late - I am upset!" I replied.
"Do you remember when you were arrested at the Town Hall last year?" asked the Sargeant. "And I told you that your Swiss army knife was an offensive weapon?"
"Yes," I replied. "But was I using it as a weapon? Did I take the knife out and was I waving it around?"
" Have you used the knife today?" he asked.
"Yes, I used the screwdriver blade to do a little plumbing job, to change the handle on a tap this morning," I replied.
At this stage, the Sergeant appeared to have a change of heart.
"What I will do," he said, " is take your details, take your knife, and let you go. I will write a report of what has happened and it can be taken from there."
I opened the black leather pouch and took out my Swiss Army knife and handed it over. It was only at that time, that my Swiss army knife was taken out of its pouch - up until that time, the fact that the black leather 'receptacle' contained a Swiss army knife had not been confirmed.
I begrudgingly gave my contact details.
I was given no receipt for my property.
I was never charged with any offence.
About this time, the Officer in Charge, Inspector George Fraser came over and said words to the effect - "She's always causing trouble."
"What?" I said, "I've never dealt with you before."
(Letters from supporting witnesses Geoff Fischer and Kirsty McCully are attached as Exhibits “B” and “C” )
Still very upset and angry, I went back to the car, and four of us went around to Central Auckland Police Station to check if anyone else had been arrested.
The car was parked off the road, partially under the Police Station, while one of our group, Brian Van Dam, went up stairs to check.
A vanload of Police pulled up - the same Police Officers that had been at the US Consulate.
One of them called out in a very aggressive way.
(I didn't myself hear exactly what was said, but I heard the tone, which was quite nasty.)
"Manners!" I called out.
Then Officer in Charge Inspector George Fraser got out of the van and walked over to the stairs.
He looked at me and said, "Piece of shit!"
(Witness Mike Treen has confirmed that is what was said. His letter as a witness is attached as Exhibit “D”)
"Pardon?" I called back angrily.
(Witness Brian Van Dam’s letter as witness is attached as Exhibit “E” )
The facts of the case as I see them are:
The fact that the black leather pouch on my belt contained a Swiss Army knife/multi-purpose tool, was never established until after I had been arrested, assaulted then 'unarrested'.
A black leather pouch with a little silver plate with "Victorinox" stamped on it is, not itself an offensive weapon.
It is a 'receptacle', which may contain a Swiss Army 'knife'/multi- purpose tool.
If a Police Officer were to presume that my above-mentioned black leather pouch contained a 'knife' they would be embarrassed. Because my ‘knife’ is now an ‘exhibit’, ‘taken without warrant’ somewhere at Auckland Central Police Station, this ‘receptacle’ now contains 'women's stuff' - a lipstick, lipstick brush and a tampon. 'Offensive weapons?'
The possession of a knife in a public place can be an offence.
The Police do have powers under the Crimes Act to search and take possession of any offensive weapon found.
The Crimes Act 1961, was amended by inserting, after section 202, the following sections:
"202 A. Possession of offensive weapons or disabling substances--- (1) In subsection (4) (a) of this section 'offensive weapon' means any article made or altered for use for causing bodily injury, or intended by the person having it with him for such use.
(2) In subsection (4) (b) of this section 'offensive weapon' means any article capable of being used for causing bodily injury."
If a bunch of keys are held so that the tips of the keys protrude through a clenched fist - they can be used as an offensive weapon.
So - is it going to be illegal to carry car keys in our pockets? It is possible to take a BIC biro and stab someone in the eye with it.
Should it be illegal to carry biros in our pockets?
By the same token, it is possible to stab someone in the eye with a finger - a finger could be an 'offensive weapon'.
Should we remove people's fingers to prevent this happening?
But why stop with fingers?
What about human hands?
In the form of a clenched fist, surely a human hand can be an 'offensive weapon'?
How many people have died from injuries suffered as a result of fistfights?
Should we then cut people’s hands off?
But then people might use their arm ‘stumps’ as offensive weapons!?
Where will it end??
Obviously, there is serious need for some commonsense here, or it all becomes totally ridiculous, and out of hand.
The commonsense provision in the law, is as follows:
"(4) Everyone is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year ---
(a) Who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, has with him in any public place any offensive weapon or disabling substance; or
(b) Who has in his possession in any place any offensive weapon or disabling substance in circumstances that prima facie show an intention to use it to commit an offence involving bodily injury or the threat or fear of violence." (My underlining)
Without 'reasonable excuse', in my opinion, is the commonsense provision, in the law.
At no time on the demonstration, did the Swiss Army knife/multi- purpose tool, leave it's little black leather pouch.
The reason why I wear it, almost everywhere, is because it is so handy. You never know when you may need the scissors, the tweezers, the screwdrivers, and the bottle opener.
According to the Managing Director of Amprosales, the agents who import Victorinox products, there were between 70,000 - 100,000 Swiss Army knives/multi-purpose tools sold in New Zealand last year.
I don't understand the principle here. Is it that the knife must not be visible in a public place?
My Swiss Champ 'knife' was fully contained, completely covered in its little black leather pouch.
No part of the 'knife' was visible at any time.
When I went to The World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan last month, I packed my 'knife', as required, in my suitcase, so it was not on my person, or inside my cabin luggage.
It is at airports nationally and internationally that a huge fuss has been made about security in general and knives in particular.
Auckland airport is a public place.
After having my 'knife' taken off me, I rang Aviation Security and Auckland Airport Police, and checked procedure at the airport.
I told the staff concerned that I had a Swiss Army ‘knife’ that I carried in a little pouch on my belt.
Was it OK to wear that inside the airport - provided that when it was time to get on the plane, that it was placed in my suitcase, and not carried on myself or inside my cabin luggage.
“No problem,” I was told.
Let's take it to a really ridiculous extreme.
If it's OK at the airport to have a Swiss Army 'knife' in a suitcase - then, if on the demonstration I had hauled around my big suitcase with my Swiss Army 'knife' rattling around in it - that would have been OK?
But is the little black leather pouch not a custom-made ‘suitcase’, made specifically for the 'knife'?
If Airport Police are not concerned about people wearing Swiss Army knives/multi-purpose tools in the public place where the most fuss has been made about such objects - then why were Auckland Police so worried about my 'knife'?
I have no history or record of crimes of violence. It was never taken out of its pouch.
(I am applying for a record of previous convictions, which will confirm that I have no previous record of violent offending, or having used any offensive weapon of any description, in any way, shape or form.)
Yes, as a long-time political activist, I do have previous convictions of which I am actually quite proud, relating to campaigning against apartheid during the Springbok Tour, campaigning against racism in New Zealand at Bastion Point and for campaigning against user-charges for water services in Manukau City – again – none of which should have given the Sargeant any ‘reasonable grounds’ for wanting to take my
Swiss Army ‘knife’ off me. So – why was I targeted?
The Sargeant could only have assumed that the pouch contained the 'knife'.
(For a Police Officer to have eyesight that can see through 2mm black leather, is a thought which is somewhat disconcerting, to say the least.)
On this occasion, that presumption was correct, but only proven after I had been arrested, assaulted, then 'unarrested'.
The Police do have powers under the Crimes Act, to search and seize offensive weapons - but there is a clear procedure to be followed:
"202 B. Powers in respect of crime against section 202 A---
(1) Where any constable has reasonable grounds for believing that any person is committing an offence against section 202 A (4) (a) of this Act he may---
(a) Stop and search that person and any package or receptacle he has with him that the constable has reasonable grounds for believing contains any offensive weapon or disabling substance, and may detain that person for as long as is reasonably necessary to conduct that search: and in any such case the constable may take possession of any offensive weapon or disabling substance found.
(2) Every constable exercising the powers conferred by subsection (1) of this section shall identify himself to every person searched, tell him that the search is being made under this section, and, if not in uniform and if so required, produce evidence that he is a member of the Police.
(3) Where any person is convicted of a crime against section 202 A of this Act, the Court may make an order for the forfeiture or disposal of any weapon, or substance, in respect of which the crime was committed."
This procedure was clearly breached, in my opinion.
According to the Airport Policeman I spoke to, 'intent' was the key issue.
If the 'knife' was out of the pouch, and I was waving it around in such a way that showed I intended to use it in to cause bodily injury - then that would trigger a response from the Police.
What 'intent' to cause bodily injury had I shown?
The 'knife' had never left its pouch, and I have no previous record that would have given the Sargeant grounds to take my 'knife' off me.
So, as far as I am concerned - I was victimised, for no good reason. Targeted as an activist.
This is totally unacceptable as far as I am concerned.
Surely the Sargeant should have at the very least stated that under section 202 B of the Crimes Act that he had the power to check whether my black leather pouch contained a Swiss Army 'knife'.
Once he had confirmed that the said pouch did in fact contain a 'knife' - then he should have asked what 'reasonable excuse' did I have for carrying it in a public place, and accepted that as it was a multi-purpose tool, that it was reasonable that I might need to use it.
Possession of a knife in a public place, can be a specific offence under the Summary Offences Act 1981, but the commonsense safeguard is still clearly spelt out:
“13 A. Possession of knives – Summary Offences Act 1981
“(1) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or a fine not exceeding [$2000] who, in any public place, without reasonable excuse, has any knife in his or her possession.”
None of this procedure was followed. My rights have been violated and my property seized.
Although on Wednesday 16 April 2003, I have now received a receipt for my 'knife', which is being heldas an 'exhibit', I still have been given no information on what the charge is. I was never charged, at any stage, for any offence.
What rankles the most, however, is the verbal abuse and offensive language used by Inspector George Fraser.
To be called a "Piece of shit" by an Inspector, in uniform, in the presence of witnesses, is totally unacceptable.
I am not a “Piece of shit”.
I am a New Zealander, who, along with others, has spent hundreds of hours on an unpaid, voluntary basis, trying to stop the commercialisation and privatisation of our water services. In the course of this campaign we have found that we are not all equal before the law.
That it is not an offence for politicians to lie to the public about their policies (we had this confirmed when ten petitioners acting on behalf of the Auckland Water Pressure Group challenged the 2001 Auckland City Local Body elections.)
However, it is an offence for members of the public to tell the truth about politicians who have effectively lied to the public by not keeping their election promises. (The Auckland City Council prosecution and ‘persecution’ of Water Pressure Group stalwart Ike Finau, over signs on his Grey Lynn property, exposing ‘sellout’ politicians.)
Along with others, I have found that our New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, (BORA) is a weak and crippled stunted dwarf, compared to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR).
Because the BORA has not fully incorporated into domestic New Zealand legislation the basic rights and freedoms that people throughout the world are supposed to be entitled under the UDHR.
Along with other New Zealanders, I believe in the upholding and extending of democracy and human rights for both the people of New Zealand and internationally.
That’s why I was on the march/demonstration against the unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq.
In defence of democracy and the human rights of the people of Iraq, against the attempts to privatise Iraqi public property (particularly oil) by corporate interests (particularly US corporate oil).
In exercising my rights of freedom of speech, peaceful demonstration, security of life and property, freedom from intimidation or interference, I was upholding New Zealand law.
Was the Officer in Charge, Inspector George Fraser, whom I believe must take ultimate responsibility for police actions on the day, upholding New Zealand law, and the democratic rights to which all New Zealanders are supposed to be entitled, in targeting me for no good reason?
As the Officer in Charge, I believe that Inspector George Fraser must be held ultimately responsible for what happened to me on April 12 2003.
In the past, through my involvement as a Media Spokesperson for the Auckland Water Pressure Group,
I have dealt with Detective Inspector Steve Shortland and Auckland District Commander Howard Broad.
I may not have agreed with what they had said, and vice versa, but I found their manner courteous and respectful, and the matters raised with them were given prompt attention.
With all due respect - given my treatment on the day of 12 April 2003, I believe that I would have had much greater justification in referring to Inspector George Fraser in the terms that he had referred to me.
However, I had the discipline to keep my opinion to myself, largely on the basis had I spoken to him in that way, I would have expected to have been arrested for offensive language.
So, why should a trained Police Officer, with the rank of Inspector be allowed to treat any member of the public in such a disrespectful way?
Surely members of the New Zealand Police Force should be at the forefront of upholding the law that they are supposed to be enforcing, especially senior officers who have reached the rank of Inspector, or perhaps they should be looking for other employment.
Looking forward to your prompt investigation of this complaint, and to your taking appropriate action to remedy the breaches of the law that have occurred and the distress and humiliation that these human rights violations have caused me.
I anticipate that there will be interest both nationally and internationally in the outcome, as the principles at issue here have universal application - in defence of human rights and democracy.
I also wish to formally serve notice that within 24 hours of your receipt of this letter of complaint, that I expect to either be formally charged with some offence, or to have my Swiss Army ‘knife’ returned to me, forthwith.
Police file number :030412/6800
Exhibit number: F203/63
For your reference is the letter received from Sargeant Start Taylor, dated 12 April 2003, received by myself on Wednesday 16 April 2003, with the accompanying '‘Property Record Sheet”. Exhibit “F”
Exhibits are attached as follows:
Exhibit “A” : Items 1,2,3,4,5, and 6: (ref: Pg 8)
Photos from my arrest on 13 March 2002, in attempting to exercise our right to freedom of expression by taking a corflute placard opposing the sale of Auckland City Council Housing, into the Auckland Town Hall.
Exhibit “B”: Letter from witness Geoff Fischer (ref: Pg 10)
Exhibit “C”: Letter from witness Kirsty McCully (ref: Pg 10)
Exhibit “D”: Letter form witness Mike Treen (ref: Pg 11)
Exhibit “E”: Letter from witness Brian Van Dam (ref: Pg 11)
Exhibit “F”: Letter from Sergeant S.J. Taylor (ref: Pg 15)