Armed Police Reveal Prompts National Day Of Action
Community organisations are rallying nationwide after data revealed police Armed Response Teams were primarily being used for routine policing, says People Against Prisons Aotearoa press spokesperson Emilie Rākete. The controversial teams were introduced last October, with Police Commissioner Mike Bush claiming the heavily-armed units were intended to be frontline responders to firearms incidents. The use of these teams for traffic stops is general armament of the police, says Rākete, and so the Arms Down coalition has called a National Day Against Police Militarisation on March 29th.
“The armed police patrols are an attempt to militarise policing in New Zealand. This has been done without any democratic mandate,” says Rākete. “The police have not considered the effects routine armament will have on the incidence of racist police violence against Māori and Pacific people, who are already many times more likely to be beaten, tasered, or shot.”
“We have called for a national day of action because New Zealanders have been given no other avenue to express their opinion on frontline police officers wielding machine guns,” says Rākete. “Stuart Nash, the police minister, has been content to let unelected police bureaucrats make these decisions for themselves. The Arms Down coalition will be demonstrating across the country to tell the police and the Government that this is our decision to make, and we say no to roaming squads of police commandos in our communities.”
The Arms Down coalition is made up of community organisations, academics, experts, and members of the community affected by police violence. The first National Day Against Police Militarisation event to be announced is a march from Manukau Square to the Counties Manukau police station, the headquarters of the Auckland Armed Response Team. Events in Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin are still to be announced.