Protesters say officers used ‘excessive’ force
"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.