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Weapons Expo protest road closed by Council and Police


Date: October 11, 2018
Peace Action Wellington

Palmerston North Council have announced that they will block roads and
restrict access to the area around the Central Energy Trust Arena during
the Weapons Expo at the end of this month. Earlier this week Palmerston
North Manager of Venues, John Lynch, sent a letter to all Waldegrave
Street residents saying that staffed checkpoints would be set up and
only residents would be let through.

“This is a clear attempt to impede the protest march planned by Peace
Action Manawatū and prevent the people of Palmerston North from
expressing their views about weapons dealers being hosted in their city
venues.”said Alex Davis, spokesperson of Peace Action Wellington.

“This weapons trade fair has already been driven out of Wellington and
Auckland because of widespread opposition to people who profit from war.
The Palmerston North City Council know that opposition to the Weapons
Expo is growing in their city. This outrageous action is anti-democratic
and prioritises big businesses over the wishes of the community they are
meant to represent. The Council do not have the right to restrict access
to public spaces just to prevent legitimate peaceful protest from
occurring” said Davis.

The Weapons Expo is a trade fair for major weapons companies, including
Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Thales and Northrup Grumman. These
companies come together at the Expo each year to showcase their latest
weapons and surveillance equipment.

Under the Local Government Act the Council must consult with Police
before blocking roads. In 2017 Police repeatedly stopped traffic on
Aotea Quay, one of the main roads into Wellington, to escort delegates
into the Weapons Expo.

“We question the discriminatory role of the Police in planning this
event and ask why they choose to act as private security for weapons
dealers and restrict access to public roads when they are meant to be
impartial.” said Davis.

“After Wellington District Court found that the Police illegally
arrested protesters in 2015, Police should be more conscious of the need
to allow people to express their political views and should not endorse
any plan that disproportionately limits our freedom of speech. We are
calling on the Council and Police to stop this violation of rights and
lift these illegal restrictions.” Davis said.

“People around the country see the effects of war from our screens, we
know it’s harming people. It is important that we be allowed to push the
kaupapa of peace and target these people who make billions of dollars
from weapons and cause death, displacement and environmental
destruction. We want to shut down these companies to make the world a
better and safer place,” said Peace Action Wellington spokesperson
Davis.

ENDS

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