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Police overreact to APEC protesters

Police responses to APEC protests are being called an over-reaction by Alliance MP Sandra Lee.

Police heavily out-numbered demonstrators at protests outside the trade ministers’ meeting yesterday and again at the Viaduct Basin today.

“It’s important that the police meet with activist groups and set some guidelines in co-operation with them rather than applying heavy-handed crack-downs against very small protest groups,” Sandra Lee said.

“The police response to APEC demonstrations appears to be far more heavy-handed than we are accustomed to seeing.

“There can be no excuse for that. The level of police response should be determined by the nature of the protestors, not the guests. These are harmless demonstrations by people who for the most part have a long history of making their views known, as they are entitled to do.

“On the Viaduct Basin today, I know of a member of the public who was standing at a distance from the demonstration, hand-in-hand with his eight-year old daughter who was taking photographs. He was distressed after being manhandled by the police into the front row of protestors with the police making comments such as ‘go and join your friends.’ When he expressed concern about being separated from his daughter, the police told him ‘she can go and join them too’.”

Sandra Lee said special legislation has just been passed to allow foreign VIP body-guards to bring weapons into New Zealand.

“The more heavy-handed the police become in dealing with legitimate, harmless protests, the more likely it is that pistol-packing foreign body-guards will exceed the privilege the Government has just given to them.

“No one wants to see overseas heavy-handedness brought to bear against kiwis exercising their right of free speech,” Sandra Lee said.

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