Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Scuffling and screaming on The Left

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Yeah, but you would say that ;-)

    Well, of course I would - it's the textbook conference speech every deputy leader has given since the year dot. And while it would be rather nice if Cullen had conceded the next election, and admitted they're all been utterly useless, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting. :)

    Now, I'll just have to see if I've correctly predicted the pull quotes that are going to end up in the news.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    In the One News video, captured from the police vantage point, the incident is swift, and Richards retires. The fact that the police agreed to investigate once they'd seen the TV3 pictures suggests that they didn't fully grasp what had happened at the time.

    I don't buy that. What were all those officers within feet of the incident looking at, if not the escalating situation right in front of them?

    If anything, it lends credence to claims made by various people that the Police have a preconceived idea of who "the enemy" is.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Margaret B,

    Thanks to Deborah for the support, and pointing out that I was looking for explanations, not excuses. I'm a bit flummoxed that Russell has so quickly jumped to a less charitable interpretation of my comment.

    I do find it a bit twee that the "one incident" of Richards hitting protesters with a megaphone is not sufficient to justify the later actions of the protesters (and in part I agree), yet you haven't addressed the actual crux of my argument Russell, which was about the broader context of the relationship here between activists and police at the moment. Yesterday's protest has not come out of a vaccum (vacuum? I can never spell that word). Yes some of the protesters are "the usual suspects". It doesn't mean that they don't have a point when they express their concerns about the recent actions of police towards political activists. I don't agree with them about everything, and I don't always agree with their methods for raising grievances, but discounting the message because you don't like the messengers is disappointing.

    I wonder if we would have seen the same discussions here on Public Address System if this had happened outside the National conference...

    Since Oct 2007 • 59 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    The fact that the police agreed to investigate once they'd seen the TV3 pictures suggests that they didn't fully grasp what had happened at the time.

    Now let me preface what I am about to say with the fact that I have always found you to be level headed and even handed in your commentary but,

    If at least one of those police personel less than 5m away didn't see that then I'm the next All Black Coach, a New Zealander will land on the moon before the decade is out and Global warming is a hippy conspiracy.

    I wonder if we would have seen the same discussions here on Public Address System if this had happened outside the National conference...

    I think you will find that most posters here are fair minded and usually have a reasonable interpretation of events but hmmm...

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I'm actually surprised Helen (or someone else from Labour) hasn't commented before - there's a better than even chance that they're going to have to form a coalition with the Maori party next year if they want to stay around and they're walking on some pretty thin ice at the moment ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    the broader context of the relationship here between activists and police at the moment. Yesterday's protest has not come out of a vaccum (vacuum? I can never spell that word). Yes some of the protesters are "the usual suspects". It doesn't mean that they don't have a point when they express their concerns about the recent actions of police towards political activists.

    Could somebody clearly articulate what exactly these perceived wrongs against the activist community actually are? And how they could have been avoided? There's been an awful lot of shouting, but without people making salient points about things that have actually happened it's a bit difficult to have a discussion of any issues. For example, it's hard to reasonably address the concerns of people who're claiming that political prisoners are being held by a police state in NZ. By any reasonable definition of either term those two assertions are false, so what's to address?

    I mean seriously. There's people sitting there at that protest in orange boiler suits, claiming some kind of parallel with the goings on at Guantanamo Bay. That doesn't stand up to even a second of rational consideration of the facts. Is there any rational engagement to be made with people who, not to put too fine a point on it, are acting so stupidly and irrationally?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    well i don't know any of the people involved but to me it seems obvious that for a lot of people the issues are: secret stuff is going on, people are being rounded up, denied bail, people are being pulled out of there cars and photographed without warrants, police are going around dressed as ninjas - it just seems so, well, un-kiwi .I think the secrecy just pushes people buttons.

    Personally I'll wait and see what evidence the police have, it had better be good and if they've screwed up and pulled in some people by mistake there had better be consequences.

    On the other hand if we want to be policed by ninjas we would have hired ninjas, cops ought to be walking around in uniform with their faces showing and guns should be out of sight unless they are needed not being paraded in front of kids on their way to school

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Now let me preface what I am about to say with the fact that I have always found you to be level headed and even handed in your commentary but,
    If at least one of those police personel less than 5m away didn't see that then I'm the next All Black Coach, a New Zealander will land on the moon before the decade is out and Global warming is a hippy conspiracy.

    Sure. I wasn't looking to justify them not apprehending Richards. I don't give a toss about him.

    It may very well be that they weren't going to haul away the old bloke from the conference, but were happy to grab the protester who grabbed him.

    It might also have been that Richards was heading away from the action, while the guy who got arrested started wrestling with Richards right under their noses. They had to do something there. It just probably shouldn't have been a full-blown arrest.

    But a lot of other people did things that would have had you or me arrested on most days of the week, and weren't arrested.

    I just don't buy the "we were provoked by the cops" line, because the 3 News video makes it pretty clear that the police showed great restraint in the face of some very shitty behaviour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I mean seriously. There's people sitting there at that protest in orange boiler suits, claiming some kind of parallel with the goings on at Guantanamo Bay. That doesn't stand up to even a second of rational consideration of the facts. Is there any rational engagement to be made with people who, not to put too fine a point on it, are acting so stupidly and irrationally?

    It's probably also worth noting that two of those who were denied bail, Tame Iti and his nephew, were on Friday granted permission to apply for home detention. That's not exactly the stuff of police states.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    Just heard on the news Les Patterson (wasn't he the Australian cultural attache in another life?) say that the police exercised restraint in not arresting Richards at the time. I can see where he was coming from I suppose, Richards now having 'remembered' that he 'may' have hit someone, but didn't recall at the time. I feel a Tui ad coming on. Just for the record I'm not trying to paint you as any sort of apologist for anyone Mr B, not at all. It just seems that there seemed to be a double standard in the way different groups were dealt with at the time. Although again the demeanour of the crowd must have been a contributing factor. Rent-a-crowd aren't doing their various causes any favours at all.

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    secret stuff is going on, people are being rounded up, denied bail, people are being pulled out of there cars and photographed without warrants, police are going around dressed as ninjas - it just seems so, well, un-kiwi .I think the secrecy just pushes people buttons.

    The secrecy does push people's buttons - it's pushing mine - but how they respond when their buttons are pushed is telling. Of those issues you listed above, which of those do you think are actually legitimate complaints against the police? And why?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just for the record I'm not trying to paint you as any sort of apologist for anyone Mr B, not at all. It just seems that there seemed to be a double standard in the way different groups were dealt with at the time. Although again the demeanour of the crowd must have been a contributing factor. Rent-a-crowd aren't doing their various causes any favours at all

    No worries. And Margaret:

    yet you haven't addressed the actual crux of my argument Russell, which was about the broader context of the relationship here between activists and police at the moment. Yesterday's protest has not come out of a vaccum (vacuum? I can never spell that word).

    I wasn't trying to have a go at you, but I don't see the validity in behaving violently to one group of officers because you believe police command have acted dubiously towards your friends -- and then claiming that you've been "provoked".

    Some of the protesters' behaviour towards Jill Ovens, who was prepared to go into that conference and put up remits that directly embodied their grievances, was moronic.

    They now have some self-destructive war (with the inevitable "class traitor" accusations) when they could have had their cause right in the middle of that conference. I really think there's a danger of this protest being about nothing other than protesting as a lifestyle.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I think I just answered that - I'm genuinely upset by their behaviour running around with guns, being dressed like IRA assassins rather than in uniform (might make sense if you are sneaking up on someone in the dark, completely pointless in daylight, they should have taken off the ski-masks, no reason to scare random members of the public), pulling random people out of cars and photographing them and road blocks - all that stuff seems to me to be beyond the pale - the rest we'll have to wait and see what's behind the kimono

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Paul, your prior post listed "people being rounded up" as a complaint against the police - so forgive me if I didn't take that too seriously given that it is their job to round up people they believe they can demonstrate have been committing crimes.

    Now, moving on to the outfits.. they were only worn in one specific part of the operation, in the location where most of the weapon-handling is seemingly alleged to have taken place. If they genuinely believed they were raiding a group of people training for an assassination or similar then a very cautious and substantial police approach to the area seems pretty reasonable, and it's not like those clothes are outfits they bought for the occasion from a fancy dress store. They're standard garb for those kinds of operations.

    I don't see either of those complaints as reasonable. If the police believe the information they have then I think their garb and approach is pretty reasonable and I'd be quite happy with them arresting people. Whether their information is accurate is for the courts to decide.

    The only remaining point from your two posts is the issue of the photographs at the roadblock. This is not a unique event, and it has happened before without this scale of protest. What's different this time?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Me neither. I have a seven year old child that attends a state school just for starters.

    You don't need a state to run schools. They can be collectively run by the community. I believe that in Barcelona during the Civil War the anarchist CNT ran schools.

    A school run by an anarchist collective would provide better education than one run by the state. It wouldn't be aimed at turning out docile call-centre fodder, for one thing.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think the "sensible" Left have fallen into the same trap that the UK judge, Lord Denning lept into over the Birmingham Six in 1980 (the six wrongly accused IRA bombers were attempting to prosecute a number of prison officers who beat confessions out of them).

    Denning refused to consider even the possibility that the beatings had occurred, saying:

    ... consider the course of events if their [the Six's] action were to proceed to trial... If they won, it would mean that the police were guilty of perjury; that they were guilty of violence and threats; that the confessions were involuntary and improperly admitted in evidence; and that the convictions were erroneous. That would mean that the Home Secretary would have either to recommend that they be pardoned or to remit the case to the Court of Appeal. That was such an appalling vista that every sensible person would say, 'It cannot be right that these actions should go any further...

    In the same way, I think that people are refusing to believe that activists are being arrested for their beliefs in NZ and clinging to the idea that those in power have secret information that Tame Iti was going to nuke Auckland, or whatever.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    You don't need a state to run schools. They can be collectively run by the community.

    A well run school is run in connection with its community. I agree that you don't need the state to run schools but at present I think they are probably a better option.

    A school run by an anarchist collective would provide better education than one run by the state.

    Umm, no. Unless you want to teach kids to reject any kind of responsibility or structure or society. Regardless of who is in charge of the school they will always have an agenda to push and unless that agenda is what is best for the kids, well.

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    In the same way, I think that people are refusing to believe that activists are being arrested for their beliefs in NZ and clinging to the idea that those in power have secret information that Tame Iti was going to nuke Auckland, or whatever.

    Rich, as you might guess from my name I'm somewhat Irish - I say somewhat as I don't have the accent, but I do have the passport. More specifically, Northern Irish, from a Catholic family. I'm well aware of the circumstances you're discussing, and they're not even remotely applicable here. The British police and courts made some shocking fuck-ups in the 70s in a heavy-handed attempt to respond to REAL bombings that were killing real people. The public pressure on them to secure convictions for these bombings was massive, and the checks and balances intended to protect the public from corruption of the legal system by police officers failed spectacularly.

    New Zealand does not have this environment. We are a peaceful place, and the general response of virtually everybody I know - including ex-cops, notably - has been one of surprise and a degree of incredulity at the possibility of home-grown terrorists. Quite simply, the police are going to have to confront and modify public expectations rather than merely submit to them in this circumstance. You are not discussing comparable situations at all.

    Now, at the moment all we have is some known key facts. Some people have been arrested. Their cases are before the courts. Some aspects of their treatment appears to be a little irregular, but we're not privy to the evidence and neither side seems to be overly excited about giving it a public airing before the trial.

    So in that circumstance leaping to the conclusion that activists are being arrested to have their views suppressed seems to be a massive and unsupportable leap of faith. Where is the evidence that this is the case? It's not that we're blinding ourselves to the evidence, it's that the evidence is not there. The evidence for the contrary is not there either, but at least somebody claims to actually have it.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    ...the idea that those in power have secret information that Tame Iti was going to nuke Auckland...

    I think that we can explain most of this by enthusiasm + cockup + groupthink. Enthusiasm to testdrive the whole anti-terror apparatus, cockup in assessing the meaning of the evidence gathered (eg whether a secretly-recorded statement should be read in jest or not) and groupthink in that once a bunch people think they have a terror plot, everything will be part of the plot.

    If I'm right about that, then people like Helen Clark may well have been told scary stuff by police who sincerely believe it. And it will be wrong.

    As to the sensible left label: tell me this.

    I am:
    - concerned about fishing expeditions
    - concerned about chilling effects on free speech
    - concerned about whether the law is being administered in a fair way
    - sympathetic towards Tuhoe grievances about their land which strike me as more or less indisputable
    - reasonably convinced on the basis of personal aquaintance that some, probably most, maybe even all of the people rounded up are guilty of nothing that could reasonably be called terrorism
    - bloody annoyed about pending changes in the anti-terrorism legislation
    - concerned that our sovereignty and traditional low-key approach to things is being rail-roaded by other countries

    I am also:
    - a believer that politics is about persuading people, and street theatre demos don't do that
    - against armed struggle, at least for the kinds of problems we have in this country
    - not prepared to man the barricades on behalf of people who want to shoot my fellow citizens
    - wanting to let the justice system show one way or the other whether it's broken or not.

    I think that yeah, people are being arrested for their beliefs, but it's by a misguided police force, and not at the behest of a government that isn't really threatened by them at all. Are the Wellington anarchists a threat to the state? Give me a break.

    I find it awfully hard to choose a course of action at this point beyond lobbying and funding lawyers. As more comes out, I may be more or less inclined to either man the barricades or review my choice of friends.

    Does that make me "sensible left?"

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • The Procrastinator,

    A little planning was missing, not pretty but crowd barriers were needed. That would have brought the cops out of the reach of any offending halitosis.

    Having protested party meetings myself the idea is to be heard inside & disrupt the pleasantries. I've been upto the glass windows with cops watching on. Why did they insist on creating a human barrier & resulting tension?

    Jill as a labour party member was a target of the protest irrespective of her personal stand point the party was the target of the protest to yeld would be to yeld to the party especially as she is a recent convert so "Scab" is fitting as well.

    The issue at hand should be the assult.
    Mallard did good in fronting up - Richards well not so good.

    Since Oct 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • The Procrastinator,

    Civil war comparisons are a little early.
    The arrested claim to be pasifists and not involved in revolution.

    Since Oct 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • 100 Word,

    That TV3 video is an entertaining and interesting watch.

    Could the protestors have tried any harder to reinforce stereotypes? I'm not sure what was sillier the 'police state' guy or someome still wearing a Che Gueva t-shirt.

    Since Sep 2007 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Or "Cli-che Guevara" as I now think of it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    Len was wrong, looked disoriented and I think fairly obviously baffled in the tv clip after where he denying he'd hit anyone. No excuses though - he was wrong and should be charged.

    The protestors - obviously none of them have ever spent any time in a real police state. This is Gitmo, my arse.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Jill as a labour party member was a target of the protest irrespective of her personal stand point the party was the target of the protest to yeld would be to yeld to the party especially as she is a recent convert so "Scab" is fitting as well.

    That's the part I honestly don't get. Are you saying all union members who are Labour Party members are "scabs" as of two weeks ago? What is the actual aim of such a protest? Contrary to certain fevered opinion, the Labour Party does not actually direct the police.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

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