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Second Arrest Of Protestor Shows Concerning Pattern Of Police Disregard For Free Speech

In addition to the arrest of a peaceful silent protestor on Saturday, Lucy Rogers, at a pro-Palestinian rally in Auckland, another protestor has contacted the Free Speech Union after being arrested for 'obstruction' after standing peacefully near the protest. There appears to be a troubling pattern of police disregard for free speech and the right to peacefully protest, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

"The protestor, Daniel, went to central Auckland prior to the protest on Saturday, and asked Police if he was permitted to hold an Israeli flag there. He was advised against it but informed that it was allowed.

"When he later brought his flag along he was told to leave, and warned that if he returned with the flag he would be arrested. He returned without the flag and was arrested and charged with obstruction. He will appear in court on Thursday.

"Frivolous charges such as 'disruption of the peace' and 'obstruction' have become commonplace in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, as ways to constrain and suppress legitimate speech rights. We must not allow that to become the case here.

"The Free Speech Union has assigned a barrister to this case who will provide pro bono representation for this protestor in his court appearance. We are also assessing the value of a further Independent Police Conduct Authority complaint, or other legal action.

"New Zealander's basic rights are to be protected by police, not defied. There must be accountability for police who fail to respect these fundamental freedoms."

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