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Police Brutality at Glen Innes Housing Protests Escalating

Press release - 16 October 2012 - For Immediate Use


Police Brutality at Glen Innes Housing Protests Escalating


Protestors have laid complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority following the escalation of police brutality towards those protesting against the removal of state houses in Glen Innes.


One complaint addresses the excessive use of force by the police during protests over the last two weeks, including multiple injuries sustained by protestors including two severe concussions, broken fingers and deep bruising. Another complaint outlines concerns regarding the police breaching their duties in failing to wear badge numbers so they can be identified by protestors at night and breach of the right to freedom of speech and right of assembly.


Earlier this year, protestors at the Glen Innes house evictions had similar injuries including veteran activists John Minto and Jimmy O'Dea.


For six months protestors have been picketing the weekly house removals from Glen Innes, getting arrested and then released without charge. Only a handful of charges have been made, out of over forty arrests in the last few months. In the last month, two of them have been banned from the entire Glen Innes suburb, a bail condition designed specifically to prevent them from the civil right to protest.


GI resident, Makelesi Ngata says, "last Tuesday protestors occupied Len Brown's office and police acted very differently to how they do in GI at nighttime. They aren’t there to look after us, they’re there to protect the government’s plan to destroy our community."


Protestors 22 year old Ella-Grace and 20 year old Cate Bell, who last week both received a concussion at the hands of police officers and both ending up in hospital say, "violence against us is getting worse - its a dark day for a nation when you see cops arrive on the scene and you feel scared!"


On Thursday, Bell was knocked unconscious when officers pushed her onto the road. Footage shows two police cars driving past failing to stop while the girl's friends attempted to keep her conscious in the middle of Lunn Road. Fellow protestors rung an ambulance and she was taken to hospital and treated for concussion.


Auckland Police spokesperson Noreen Hegarty last week told the media, "we absolutely believed we acted professionally" and no injuries had been reported to police. Ngata says, "to think we would complain about the assault to the same people who assaulted us is bizarre - how can we be expected to trust the police after the assaults we have received and witnessed from them?"


The Tamaki Housing Action Group has been fighting against the removal of houses, eviction of families and destruction of their community. The agreement signed by Mayor Len Brown and the Minister of Housing Phil Heatley in August has seen the formation of the Tamaki Redevelopment Company which serves to gentrify the working-class suburb of mostly Pasifika and Maori families. THAG says this is pulling apart their community for the purpose of privatizing houses owned by the public.


ENDS

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