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Police use Courts to harass activists

Police use Courts to harass activists

Wellington police have today confirmed that they will again pursue
trespass charges against a peace activist. The hearing for a trespass
charge will be heard at Wellington District Court despite evidence
showing the police's case has no foundation. Peace Action Wellington
member Laura Drew was arrested when leaving the Ministry of Defence in
April 2016 after a protest against increased military spending and the
controversial US ship visit. Video evidence clearly shows that Drew was
leaving the venue within the time frame set out by police officers at
the moment she was violently arrested.

This follows a pattern of Wellington police unnecessarily arresting and
pursuing conviction of peace activists with flimsy evidence. In February
2017 the police and Crown's case against 15 activists arrested at the
2015 Wellington Weapons Expo crumbled as it was proven repeatedly that
there was no evidence of any crime. The police were eventually ordered
to pay court costs to the activists.

Emma Cullen, who was also arrested in 2015 and witnessed Drew's arrest
in 2016 said today "It was a pretty foolish, embarrassing and wasteful
exercise for the police to prosecute us for our 2015 Weapons Expo
protest. This is becoming quite a trend – the cops are extremely
aggressive with us when we exercise our right to speak out against war,
threatening us and arresting us for no reason. They then unnecessarily
pursue legal action, which drags on for months, only to eventually take
us to court with no evidence at all."

Cullen continued, "It's a total waste of taxpayers' money to take
innocent activists to court – I'm pretty sure people would be horrified
to know that their taxes are being used to stop people protesting. It's
either complete incompetence on the part of the police – or else it's a
targeted attempt to discourage us and other activists from protesting.
We were recently at a protest against US Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson's visit and saw a really high level of police surveillance
which suggests that the police are deliberately targeting anyone who
speaks out."

Drew is confident that the police's case against her will fall apart
again tomorrow in court. "Video shows that I did nothing wrong and the
police know this. They emailed me today to say that they're pursuing a
conviction regardless. We refuse to be put off by police harassment and
surveillance – we're continuing to organise against the Weapons Expo
which is coming back to Wellington in October this year, as well as
against local arms dealers like MAS Zengrange in Lower Hutt. War starts
here and we need to stop it here. "

Laura Drew will be appearing in Courtroom 7, Wellington District Court
tomorrow, 10am Thursday June 15th facing a charge of trespass.


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