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Students And Young Workers Face Brutal Police

For immediate release
Media Release-Radical Youth
20/03/2006

Protesting students and young workers face up to out of control and brutal police behavior during walkout


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Between 700 and 800 Auckland school students walked out of school today and rallied at Aotea square to send a clear message to parliament that pay discrimination is unacceptable in a twenty-first century democracy.

Radical Youth called the walkout in support of Sue Bradford’s Minimum Wage Amendment Bill. We feel the position we have taken today is consistent with New Zealand’s obligations to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

After rallying at Aotea Square against youth rates and low pay the hundreds of school students who had turned out then marched down Queen Street, holding protest rallies outside numerous fast food outlets.

A scuffle broke out at an intersection halfway down Queen Street. Radical Youth spokesperson and Western Springs student Joseph Minto witnessed the scene unfold, “After students began to sit down in protest at an intersection, I noticed an ambulance heading rapidly towards us. Students had not noticed the ambulance, which hadn’t sounded its siren until it was dangerously close, and still showed no signs of slowing down. With ten meters to go a Radical Youth safety marshal, who had told the police he was taking personal responsibility for the demonstrators safety, attempted to slow down the rapidly advancing ambulance which was threatening the safety of marchers by putting himself in the path of the vehicle.”

The safety marshal, Omar Hamed, a seventeen-year-old Auckland University student, was subsequently arrested and assaulted by police while in their custody. He later said, “I was going to move from the road as soon as I had accounted for the safety of the other demonstrators. But the officers at the scene arrested me and took me into the backroom of a nearby Westpac bank and hit me repeatedly in the face before using a choke hold on me, even though I was passive.”

After the march had continued on towards the bottom of Queen Street more and more young people joined the demonstration but others were scared off by brutal police behavior towards young protestors. Mr. Minto said later, “Students throughout the demonstration fell victim to numerous cases of police brutality.”

“Although Radical Youth are pleased that so many students were willing to take direct action in solidarity with the poorest youth of Aotearoa we are disappointed at police behavior. As one speaker said at the rally today, “This isn’t truancy, this is activism,”” he continued.

Radical Youth will be making a formal complaint about the behavior of police today towards students exercising their democratic rights.”

ENDS

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