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GPJA Complaint to Commissioner over Police Tactics

Global Peace And Justice Auckland

20 March 2005

Open Letter To:
Rob Robinson
Commissioner of Police
Police National Headquarters
PO Box 3017 Wellington

Fax (04) 498 7400

Police Tactics in Anti-War Protests on Saturday February 19th

Dear Mr Robinson,

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 -

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The taking of many dozens of photos by police during the Wellington demonstration in what appears to be a “profiling exercise”.
  • 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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