Ar­rests at tense de­fence fo­rum protest

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - TOM HUNT AND MATT STE­WART

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.

PHOTO KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Po­lice move in to ar­rest pro­test­ers out­side the West­pac Sta­dium in Welling­ton yes­ter­day where an arms and de­fence fo­rum was be­ing held.

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