First, apologies for the delay in getting this post put up here. It is far better to get the facts right first, even if it means a delay, than to be forced later to print a retraction.
As well, it takes time to carefully wade through and publish the mountains of video evidence that goes into producing an accurate picture of an event as momentous as Auckland’s D8 protest against the TPPA.
Rather than report it blow by blow, making this post far too big, I will take the best video clips available of the key events and let them speak for themselves.
First, the basics; on D7 (December 7, 2012) the Auckland ANFS committee called a march to celebrate the near completion of the petition, and to urge us all to work to finish it soon. Here is the first of several videos on this topic;
This video is one of 6 D7 videos found on ActioNZMedia.
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Like all ANFS protests, D7 was entirely peaceful. So peaceful in fact, that the police hardly showed up, except to direct traffic, and there were scant news reports that night of the march.
So then what happened on D8, the Anti-TPPA march on the following day? By now, most people will have heard reports of violence at that protest, in complete contrast to D7. What really went on?
D8 started normally, and once again, as always, the protest was orderly and well organised. Here is a video of the march from Aotea Square to SkyCity in Federal Street;
In Federal Street, Jane Kelsey prepared to deliver a petition signed by 750 THOUSAND people from around the world, opposing the TPPA;
Unfortunately, Jane was rebuffed by representatives of the TPPA, even though she was a registered “Interested Party” to the negotiations.
Their envoy rejected and excluded from the negotiations in such an arrogant manner, the crowd then decided to protest at the door of the Grand Hotel. With more than 500 protesters in the street and near the door, the noise was deafening. The first protesters arriving at the door found it relatively lightly guarded, and in fact it was not locked. One protester tried to open the door and partially succeeded, but decided not to continue or call for assistance, so as to avoid creating a dangerous situation. When she let the door go, security quickly swarmed in to fill the gap.
The protest got stronger at the door, as the front area of the hotel filled up, but it remained entirely peaceful. Protesters can be heard chanting to be let into the negotiations, but this refers to the rejection of Jane Kelsey, the envoy, which only happened moments before, not to protesters themselves – there was no real attempt to get into the building.
As more people came into the area, it got more crowded, and there was some light jostling, but nothing serious. However, about 5 minutes after police and security came to the door area, a police officer violently shoved a protester. This was “The Shove that Started it All”;
Stills of the officer involved appear to show the officer smiling or grinning after shoving the young man. But the trouble this causes should wipe the smile off of the face of anyone who expects better from the police; from this point, bedlam ensues, and people start getting hurt.
The video evidence shows it’s a mostly one-sided affair; in the video, protesters are seen being shoved and thrown around – some can be seen holding their hands in the air in a gesture of surrender, even as security guards continue to assault them. Other protesters can be heard calmly directing the removal of dangerous objects from the space, even though the crush and the assault by police is intensifying. Screams of pain and fear are heard. The protesters were not fighting, they were being attacked.
Even still, the broad assault by the police officer and security guards does not result in a melee, contrary possibly to their expectations. So it appears, from the best evidence available, that at least two other attempts may have been made by certain police to “kick it off”, when a strange, motorcycle-helmeted officer, supported by a line of ordinary uniformed police moves into the middle of the crowd, and allegedly punches a woman in the face. The protesters are angered by this, but the scuffle still remains isolated and does not spread. After this, the officer in the helmet later appears to have another go, at the fringes of the protest, and fails a second time.
If you have watched the previous videos, you can fast-forward to 4:00 to pick up the action, including the second altercation with the strange helmeted officer at 6:00.
In this video, a small flag is symbolically burned (not show), and then the boxes representing the petition which could not be delivered are also burned (shown). It’s a small cardboard and paper fire in the middle of the road – no one is hurt and no damage is done. But the symbolic fire is a side-show; what we observe is that whenever the police are absent, the protesters mill around peacefully and calmly – only when the police come is there any physical violence.
The protest concludes in good order as the protesters, now about 200 strong march back down to Queen Street and on to Aotea Square. There, they assemble to discuss what has happened and have a final rally. However, as this video shows at 8:30, approximately 20 police suddenly show up out of nowhere, after it’s all over, to arrest one 19 year old girl… all 158 centimeters and 59 kgs of her. This cause yet another altercation.
While not all of the evidence is available, it appears from the videos above that certain police repeatedly provoked ordinarily peaceful protesters during and after the protest rally on D8. The question is, “Why?”
1. WHY DID CERTAIN POLICE APPEAR TO PROVOKE PROTESTERS AT THE TPPA NEGOTIATIONS?
and the most important question of all…
2. WHY ARE THESE NEGOTIATIONS BEING HELD IN SUCH EXTREME SECRECY?
If this was such a great deal for New Zealand, the government would not wish to keep it a secret. They would want us to know everything about it. But if instead, they are really planning to sell us down the river, it stands to reason they would keep it a secret as long as possible, and they would want to deliver a harsh lesson to anyone who dared challenge it.
Or, if you don’t feel like reading, listen to Stephen Parry, a lawyer, an expert on the TPPA, and an associate of Jane Kelsey, New Zealand’s foremost authority on this subject.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The whole of Aotearoa must come out in peaceful but determined and relentless opposition to this attempted violation of our Sovereignty, before it is too late.
The Resistance begins now…