Protesters and police clash in viaduct
Protesters and police clashed at a military conference in downtown Auckland this week.
Albert-Eden-Roskill Councillor Cathy Casey spoke to about 100 protesters before they blockaded the Viaduct Events Centre at about 9am on Wednesday.
The blockade, organised by Auckland Peace Action, was in opposition to the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Forum.
The military forum links defence businesses with government agencies. Its principal sponsor is the world’s largest weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Casey said in her speech she was ‘‘ashamed to be a councillor on this day’’.
‘‘Councillors were given no say in the matter,’’ Casey said.
‘‘But I think it is the wrong thing to do in a council funded building. Especially with recent political climate under Trump, it just seems really insensitive.’’
Former mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick said the protest was an important way to tell New Zealanders what was happening in their country.
‘‘Right now what we need is peace to heal after the decades and decades of war,’’ Swarbrick said.
Several attempts were made by those attending the conference to try and get through the blockade, with police helping them force their way through.
Auckland City police district commander Superintendent Karyn Malthus said on Wednesday afternoon she was concerned that a number of protesters ‘‘behaved in a way that created safety issues, both for others at the protest and delegates attempting to enter the conference’’.
With protests expected to con- tinue through the week as warships from a number of countries attend ceremonies marking the New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary, she said police would ‘‘continue to work to ensure safety and uphold the law, while also continuing to recognise the lawful right to protest’’.
Auckland Peace Action spokesperson Virginia Lambert hailed the blockade as a ‘‘great success’’.
‘‘We are thrilled to have had so many people to come and resist this war profiteers’ meeting,’’ Lambert said.
‘‘These courageous activists put themselves in the way of the war business to stop it.’’
Police say no arrests were made.
Police, protesters, and forum attendees jostled outside the ANZ Events Centre during an arms conference on Wednesday.