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Farce In Court: Protestors Unjustly Charged

21 March 2005

Farce In Court: Protestors Unjustly Charged

Peace Activists charged with trespass for possessing a copy of the NZHerald 5 Peace Activists were charged with trespass at the Auckland District Court today. The charges were based on one activist possessing a copy of the Herald on Sunday ­ Œpolitical propaganda¹ according to Court Police.

The Global Peace and Justice Auckland (GPJA) Activists were part of a cohort of 20 to 30 supporters protesting outside the Auckland District Court at the arrest of four other Peace Activists during Saturday¹s Anti-War march and peaceful demonstration at the ANZ Bank, Queen Street.

Today¹s Peaceful Protest Action, organised by GPJA, was being held on three counts:

1. Condemning the undemocratic actions of police disrupting Saturday¹s lawful, peaceful and public protest, and inciting confrontation with Peace Activists.

2. Condemning the unprovoked, police brutality against activists at the Saturday demonstration.

3. Condemning the arrest of four Peace Activists for passive resistance actions incited by the police

This is in addition to the five points forming the basis of GPJA¹s formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority, sent Sunday 20th March (see Sunday's letter to the Commissioner of Police).

The five activists had requested permission to enter the court in support of one defendant: Simon Oosterman, in this instance appearing on another charge of Œindecent exposure¹ as part of group naked bicycle ride protesting against society¹s dependence on the car, and marking the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. In court peacefully, all five were arrested when one was seen carrying a copy of the New Zealand Herald on Sunday.They were charged with trespass on the grounds of possessing Œpolitical propaganda¹. Three of the activists are prominent civil rights campaigners. One of these three did not have her cellphone returned by the police after her release.

Supporters of the five newly arrested went to demonstrate outside Auckland Central Police Station, but were served with notice by a security guard, together with a policeman, banning the demonstrators from using a megaphone or chanting. Up to twenty policemen were outside the station keeping an eye on the demonstrators, a similar number of police were at the District Court earlier this morning.

Today¹s actions by the police are patently farcical, and clearly designed to draw public attention from the well-documented, reprehensible tactics used by officers at Saturday¹s Anti-War demonstration. Ironically, Oosterman¹s agit-prop dress replicating that of prisoners at Abu Gharaib, was passed without comment.

Global Peace and Justice Auckland condemns today's actions by the police as opportunist, and reiterates its call for a Police Complaints Authority investigation into Saturday's events.

ENDS

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