Arrests at tense defence forum protest
Five protesters were arrested during fraught scenes outside a Wellington defence forum.
As bus loads of forum attendees turned out to Westpac Stadium yesterday, a few hundred protesters blockaded the stadium entrances.
Among those detained and dragged away by police was a disabled man with a walking cane associated with People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA).
He was there protesting prison operator Cisco’s involvement in the forum, dubbed a expo’’.
‘‘It was massively over the top,’’ Ti Lamusse from PAPA said. ‘‘It was brutal. He was telling them he was disabled. He was in pain – he was in agony.’’
As each busload arrived police blocked off the out-of-city lanes of Waterloo and Aotea Quay but, at one point, scuffling protesters and police broke into the still-open city-bound lanes and into traffic.
Earlier, about 300 anti-weapons protesters blocked every entrance into the stadium in an attempt to stop the scheduled Defence, Industry & National Security Forum. ‘‘weapons
Shortly after 11am police managed to get some attendees inside despite some protesters lying down in the middle of Aotea Quay.
When one busload of delegates arrived, protesters surrounded it. The bus carrying the attendees mounted the pavement while police formed a human shield to create a walkway in.
Subsequent busloads followed suit, each with tense clashes between police and protesters.
Earlier, the protesters said they had all-but halted the expo, despite police intervention.
Wellington police operations manager Inspector Neil Banks said that by 10.45am, five people had been arrested for obstructing a roadway.
Protesters organiser Jessie Dennis claimed victory, saying they had stopped all but a few from entering early in the day.
Among those protesting was Father Gerard Burns who said the Catholic Church had a ‘‘very strong position about the production of arms and war’’.
‘‘I’m here to protest about weapons production and the destruction they bring to people, communities and the planet,’’ Burns said.
Police move in to arrest protesters outside the Westpac Stadium in Wellington yesterday where an arms and defence forum was being held.