Pro­test­ers and po­lice clash in viaduct

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - TOM CARNEGIE

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.

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