Pro­test­ers say of­fi­cers used ‘ex­ces­sive’ force

Waikato Times - - News - GED CANN

"I nearly died be­cause a po­lice­man pushed me on to the road."

Pro­tester Eliana Dar­roch

Pro­test­ers at a de­fence in­dus­try fo­rum in Welling­ton claim po­lice used in­ap­pro­pri­ate force to dis­perse them.

One of the or­gan­is­ers said he wit­nessed a man dragged by his hair un­til his scalp bled, and an­other said she was shoved into the path of a truck.

Po­lice have de­nied us­ing ex­ces­sive force and said they were ‘‘ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed’’ with the be­hav­iour of pro­test­ers, many of whom cre­ated safety is­sues and dis­rupted traf­fic.

‘‘Po­lice of­fi­cers work­ing at the protest were sub­jected to com­pletely un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour by some of the pro­test­ers – in­clud­ing be­ing spat at,’’ op­er­a­tions man­ager Neil Banks said.

‘‘De­spite this, our of­fi­cers con­ducted them­selves with pro­fes­sion­al­ism and acted ap­pro­pri­ately.

‘‘Any force used by po­lice on pro­test­ers was to move them away from the in­com­ing ve­hi­cles and away from the en­try point.’’

Rei-Marata God­dard, who suf­fers pain in his back and legs, and walks with a cane, said he was choked by his own neck­lace as po­lice pulled him out of the path of one of the buses car­ry­ing del­e­gates.

His cane was then thrown over a fence and he was told to walk with­out it.

‘‘I was told by one of the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cers that I was a ‘silly b...h’ for com­ing to a protest if I was dis­abled. They made it clear they didn’t think I was dis­abled.

‘‘Be­ing a trans­gen­der man I had to give them my le­gal name, which is not the name I go by. I was mocked by an­other of­fi­cer, who was very fixed on us­ing what is termed my dead name, in the trans com­mu­nity ...’’

Eliana Dar­roch said she was tak­ing wa­ter to pro­test­ers when she was pushed by a po­lice­man into the path of an on­com­ing truck.

‘‘I nearly died be­cause a po­lice­man pushed me on to the road,’’ she said.

‘‘I was sur­prised how they were treat­ing us. If we had treated them like that, we would cer­tainly have been ar­rested.’’ She said the po­lice ac­tions were heavy handed, and of­ten in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘One cop de­lib­er­ately pushed my breasts, and they were laugh­ing and sneer­ing when I told them not to touch me.’’

Dar­roch was not alone, ac­cord­ing to Gayaal Id­damal­goda of Peace Ac­tion Welling­ton, who helped or­gan­ise the event.

He said he heard other pro­test­ers claim po­lice had touched them in­ap­pro­pri­ately, seem­ingly as a method of dis­pers­ing the crowds.

Banks re­jected the claims, say­ing: ‘‘This is a lu­di­crous al­le­ga­tion and one that I find per­son­ally of­fen­sive.

‘‘I am not aware of any for­mal com­plaints that have been made to po­lice re­gard­ing of­fi­cer con­duct at the protest, or any in­juries sus­tained.‘‘ he said.

Four­teen pro­test­ers ar­rested on Tues­day.

On Wednesday night, pro­test­ers in­tended to con­tinue their op­po­si­tion to the fo­rum by hold­ing a ‘‘noise party’’ out­side West­pac Sta­dium, where del­e­gates were be­lieved to be hav­ing din­ner.

Give Peace A Dance, in­volv­ing lo­cal mu­si­cians Disas­tera­dio and Alexa Casino, was in­tended to be held. How­ever, rain forced the pro­test­ers to move the party.



Pro­tester Rei-Marata God­dard said he had trou­ble breath­ing as po­lice dragged him away from an ap­proach­ing bus.

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