Last week I wrote about how the mass arrest of protesters last week was planned by police from the beginning. A couple of days later I was told that 10 minutes before the march a Police Liaison Officer spoke to protest organisers and stated that police were only there to facilitate the march. I have now managed to track down the video of this conversation:
At the beginning of the video, if you listen carefully you’ll hear the Police Liaison say: “We are here to facilitate that…”
The conversation then goes on:
Police Liaison: Ideally, depending on numbers, we would prefer you to stay on the footpath.
Protest Organiser: Yeah that’s not going to happen.
Police Liaison: What about one lane?
Protest Organiser: No one lane’s not going to happen either. That would kind of defy the point of the blockade protest. The idea is, we want to be engaging with these people so we feel like if we aren’t asking them to engage directly then we’re not really being heard, and that can be illustrated by the Minister of Finance kind of inciting this situation himself directly. That’s kind of our position on it – we would like to stand on both sides of the street and we feel there probably will be enough of us.
Police Liaison: Have you got any indication of numbers?
Protest Organiser: We’ll just keep counting, like you.
Police Liaison: Very good. And have you got a time?
Protest Organiser: 3pm
Police Liaison: For here? Is that when you’re going to march? Are you going to have a little rally first?
Protest Organiser: There’ll be a bit of a rally here, when we announce the plan to everyone. Much the same as last week. And then we’ll march from here so there’ll be a few chants and then we’ll walk up the street.
Police Liaison: Will you tell me your direction?
Protest Organiser: It’s going to be in the same direction as last time.
Police Liaison: Very good. Thank you very much.
As it turned out the protesters decided they didn’t reasonably have the numbers to take over the whole street, so they were only marching up two out of the four lanes.
The Police Liaison Officer in this conversation could have warned the protesters that everyone would be arrested if they marched up the road (though that would itself have been unlawful). Instead she clearly gave the impression that police had no issue with the protest plan. The video was taken right on 3pm, just before the beginning of the protest. Less than 10 minutes later, police began the mass arrests.