Last week Bill English suggested that student protesters needed lessons from the Greeks in how to riot. I expected them to take the bait and up their game but it seems the police are taking lessons from the Greek Riot Police instead. In the last hour or so students marching up Symonds Street were stopped by police. In response the protesters all sat down. Last word is that police have arrested around 50 people and look like they will arrest the 20 or so protesters left on the road too.
In last week’s student protests that Bill English referred to, protesters blocked the road for 5 hours and in that time there were only 2 police officers in attendance. This week there are around 80 police so it’s pretty clear that their goal from the start was mass arrests.
John Darroch is taking photos and video at the protest and says:
Every arrest so far has been violent and brutal. Police have been twisting peoples arms and dragging people along the road. Those arrested can be heard screaming in pain.
I was threatened with arrest for kneeling in a drain at the side of the road to take photos and video of some of the arrests. When I asked what the charge would be I was told I was obstructing police. They came in to arrest me so I backed off.
I have my 18 month old in a carrier on my back so I’m not keen to get into any sort of conflict with the police today. I’ve had cops questioning why I’ve brought my baby to the protest but I’m just taking photos and staying out of the action. It’s pretty clear that the only threat to my son is from the police.
Police look to be bringing in more paddy wagons to cart protesters back to the police station. I believe they plan to keep arresting everyone until there are no protesters left.
I’ll update if there’s any more news.
Update 4.31pm: A few more arrests, now all students are off the road.
Update 4.36pm: At least one man (a union photographer) was arrested just for taking photographs.
Update 4.43pm: Around 500 protesters are now marching down Symonds Street on the sidewalk.
Update 4.47pm: Protesters have been kettled in by police across from the Business School but are apparently pushing back.
Update 4.49pm: More police are arriving.
Update 5.11pm: Protesters now marching again towards Albert Park. Around 200 protesters and 40 cops left.
Update: 5.47pm: John Darroch has left the protest (baby was scared of the cops). Twitter has the best updates here. The protesters have been marching around the city including cutting through a mall to lose police vehicles. Last report is that 100 cops have turned up on Queen
Update 6.45pm: One of the lawyers acting for those arrested has just been told by police that everyone arrested will be released without charge in the next couple of hours. That excludes 4 people who have refused to cooperate, presumably by refusing to give the police their details.
Update 9.09pm: John Darroch’s photos from today’s protest:
TVNZ’s raw footage is here. It shows police arresting a women just for sitting down, and grabbing her around the neck and dragging her despite no active resistance.