Police Liaison = Police Trap

Written By: - Date published: 3:16 pm, June 8th, 2012 - 45 comments
Categories: activism, police - Tags:

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.

45 comments on “Police Liaison = Police Trap”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    And the police wonder why people hold them in contempt.

    • Te Reo Putake 1.1

      The Police officer seemed pretty reasonable to me, Draco. Nothing contemptible about liaising with the organisers of the march, nothing on the tape to suggest she was in on a set up or indeed, that there was a ‘trap’ at all. They’re cops; if you piss them off, they arrest you. Something I’ve experienced myself, in many similar circ’s (and, on occasion, without the kid glove treatment I saw in the vids of the arrests).
      The tactic of arrest, hold and release has been used for years now. It’s an effective way of taking the steam out of a protest, without the drama of court appearances, convictions etc. Or a ‘fry up’ as I believe our coppers call the use of the Tazer.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Nothing contemptible about liaising with the organisers of the march,

        There was no liaising, just information gathering.

        It’s an effective way of taking the steam out of a protest,

        Well, if that’s its purpose then it needs to be illegal. The police are supposed to be there to help protect democracy, not help the authoritarian governments destroy it.

        • Te Reo Putake

          No, that was liaising; the sharing of information. All this video proves is that one police officer thought that the march was no big deal. I must say your idea that the police are here to help protect democracy is touchingly naive! They are here to enforce the law, something they have in common with police forces in every country, democratic or not.

          • shreddakj

            The Bill of Rights is law yes?

            • Te Reo Putake

              What’s your point?

              • Colonial Viper

                Reminds me of Occupy protests in the US where the police would quietly escort a peaceful protest march…straight into a dead end police cordon which would close shut around the protesters. Mass arrests would follow.

                TRP: why do you think the “liaison” didn’t issue any warning to the protestors that they faced imminent arrest?

                • Te Reo Putake

                  Because the Liaison Officer clearly wasn’t in on the conspiracy, CV. Need to know, plausible deniability and all that.
                  Nah, just kidding. Watch the video, she just isn’t that bothered, nor is the student leader. Why it changed from a pretty low key event to numerous arrests, I do not know. But, so what? It’s just not that big a deal that a few middle class kiddies* got locked up for a few hours. Try being brown, poor and out at night in a South Auckland shopping centre for the real thing. Especially tonight with the cops looking for the guy who tried to shoot one of their own.
                  *Copyright V32!

                  • weka

                    Whether she knew or not it’s pretty obvious from the time frames that the person in charge knew. That counts as a set up.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Maybe so, weka, but there isn’t any evidence to back up that assertion AFAIK. The cops were certainly helped by the organisers’ failure to get a permit for the march*. That gave them the ability to use the pretty loose breach of the peace provisions to start nicking people any time they felt like it.
                      *I stand to be corrected, but I think that was confirmed in the posts last Friday. I’ve got a dose of the flu, so I’m not up to trawling through the comments to check.

                    • weka

                      not really getting your point TRP. I thought Rocky’s post made it pretty clear. Unless you are saying she is lying or mistaken?
                      The police knew there was a protest. They planned a blockade. or are you saying it was coincidence they were on the same street at the same time?
                      Yes, there was no permit. But as Rocky spelled out in the last post, there was no need for one – historically in Auckland protests have sometimes been held without them, and that’s not been a problem.

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Mistaken, not lying. If they’d got the permit, then it would have been less of a green light for the cops to start arresting people. Without it, all the marchers were technically breaching the peace the moment they left the pavement, which gave the cops the ability to do what they did. Why they did it, I don’t know. I’m guessing whoever was in charge thought things were getting out of hand and took the catch and release option. Which is a pretty common response in these situations.
                      Just so there’s no confusion, I fully support the aims of the march and I think the game of Frogger the marchers played with the cops after the arrests was probably the cleverest bit of protest action in years.
                      But I just don’t see a conspiracy, Weka, nor have I seen any evidence of police brutality.

                    • KJT

                      Can’t anyone see what is wrong with these statements?

                      YOU NEED A PERMIT TO PROTEST.


                      We have have statements like this from several commenters on this site.

                      Where are the advocates of individual freedom?

                      I forgot. They are instructing the police to arrest legal protesters.

                      The police do not have the right to detain;
                      Legal protesters.
                      A demonstration using a public thoroughfare.
                      Citizens going about their lawful business. (Whether it pisses the cops off or not).

                      THE POLICE DID NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO DETAIN NON VIOLENT MARCHERS. Shown by the lack of charges.

                      What happened to the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

                      The police involved should have been charged with illegally preventing citizens right to dissent. Or are we just going to quietly give in to the erosion of our rights and the increase in police powers.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Nah, just kidding. Watch the video, she just isn’t that bothered, nor is the student leader. Why it changed from a pretty low key event to numerous arrests, I do not know. But, so what? It’s just not that big a deal that a few middle class kiddies* got locked up for a few hours.

                      The liaison was part of a police process to end a democratic protest using force. Force which was used despite the fact that no actual arrests could be justified.

                      Surprised you’re so blasé about it, actually.

                      All this video proves is that one police officer thought that the march was no big deal

                      Why did her superiors choose not to warn the marchers that arrests were imminent if they continued?

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Yes, KJT, shouting helps.
                      So does getting the appropriate permits so that you are not immediately breaking the law the moment your protest starts, thus allowing the cops to start nicking people any time they felt like it.
                      So all your shouty bits are complete bollocks, I’m afraid. The naivety of the organisers allowed the cops the freedom to arrest any time they wanted to. Which they took full advantage of, apparently. Hopefully, the next one this group organises will be a bit less helpful to PC Plod, but if your comment is indicative of the strategic planning, maybe not.
                      CV, I suspect there was no plan to arrest anyone at all, but at some point, whoever was in charge made the call to start doing so because of the events on the march itself. In other words, something changed. Not an unusual happening in a relatively volatile event.

                    • KJT

                      Te Reo.

                      I do not think you understand.

                      I am shouting because I am pissed off. At people do not understand how serious it is that our rights are slowly, but surely, being removed..



                      Marching down a public road is not breaking the law.

                      Forcibly detaining and seizing people during a protest is breaking the law. And a crime against human rights.

                      I do not think you get what is wrong with the picture.

                      It is not right when they do it to brown people out of sight, teenagers because they think they will get away with it and students in plain sight.

                      It is never right!

                  • rocky

                    Try being brown, poor and out at night in a South Auckland shopping centre for the real thing.

                    Exactly. If they’ll do this to white middle class students while the cameras are rolling, imagine being poor and brown in South Auckland!

                    • rocky

                      CV, I suspect there was no plan to arrest anyone at all, but at some point, whoever was in charge made the call to start doing so because of the events on the march itself. In other words, something changed. Not an unusual happening in a relatively volatile event.

                      If there was no plan to arrest, why were there 100 police and a bunch of paddywagons deployed right from the start?

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      Cheers, Rocky and more power to you! The events around class sizes clearly show that this Government are scared shitless when the middle class get militant. We need more protests and more people out on the street to stop asset sales and to bring this wretched excuse for a leadership to its knees. But that needs more understanding of the real power in this country. It ain’t the cops! It’s us.

                      Edit: re: the paddy wagons, that’s SOP. Hell, they had the army 3 kms from Whanganui city on the last day of the Pakaitore occupation. But that was uppity maori, not the sons and daughters of National voters.

          • Nandor

            Naive maybe but police instructions do explicitly state that one of their functions in policing demonstrations is to protect the right of democratic protest. That was a result of a recommendation of the Justice and Electoral Committee after it held an inquiry into the policing of the Free Tibet protests during APEC in 1999, during which police used “catch and release” and also pulled flags out of protestors hands so the Chinese Premier couldn’t see them. Parliament was highly critical of such actions.

  2. Sweetd 2

    Really?!?!?!, which people?

    • McFlock 2.1

      I suspect a number of people who were arrested, detained and then released without charge.

  3. Sweetd 3

    Well, then, don’t sit in the middle of a busy road at rush hour.

    • Rocky 3.1

      The sitting started after the arrests started.

      • McFlock 3.1.1

        letting facts get in the way of idiot assumptions again? Unfair!

      • Sweetd 3.1.2


        On the raw video from tvnz arrests were made when they were sitting.

        • McFlock

          That doesn’t mean the first arrests happened when everyone was sitting.

        • BJ

          If you are genuinely interested, here’s footage of the moment when we go from standing to sitting, as well as of a cop throwing a punch and numerous cops using legalized police brutality techniques. We were marching before we were standing still, but when the police stop you from moving forward it’s kinda hard to keep going.

          • weka

            I’m really shocked by that. I haven’t watched any other footage. The police surrounding the protestors like that, how can that be anything other than intimidating? And what can be the point of that except if you are intending to arrest the protestors? I can’t see how that manoeuvre can have been anything other than planned.

          • sweetd

            The video shows police arresting people after they had sat down.

            • Colonial Viper

              Yes it does. But it doesn’t conclusively show no arrests before that point either.

            • McFlock

              It shows police hemming the students in on at least three sides before the decision to sit was made. So even though that particular video doesn’t show arrests before sitting (not that it shows all the protest, by any means), I think it demonstrates that the decision to arrest was pretty obviously made before the decision to sit down. 
              So your comment “Well, then, don’t sit in the middle of a busy road at rush hour” is still pretty stupid – if anything the decision to sit seemed to be a reaction to the cops’ clear intention to surround, contain and arrest. Same playbook as Berkeley in the 60s, by the way.

              • sweetd

                It was the middle of a main road approaching rush hour. Hem them in, and keep them out of the traffic as best they could. Sitting down was a provocation. Removing them was the correct course of action for that location. FFS they could of had a god ole sit down in aotea squarre and nobody would give a rats ass. The location and the action they took at that location was the reason they got arrested.

                • McFlock

                  You can see the cops deploy around the protest and close right in before the decision to sit was made.
                  If anything, hemming the students in was a provocative act that they simply responded to by sitting down.
                  “Keep them out of the traffic”? What traffic? Although that footage does show an almost empty lane that could have been used for limited traffic had it not been filled with police officers preparing to arrest students then release them without charge.

                • felix

                  Hi sweetd.

                  Lets save a bit of time with the back and forth and you looking up non-existent statutes that you think supersede the BoRA, and just come out and say that you think the police should be able to arrest anyone they like, anytime they like.

          • David H

            And if you look at that footage when the punch was thrown there is one thing missing, NO I.D badges can be seen. go through it frame by frame from 3.40. and you will also see a couple of police walk out, start from about 50 secs. Then another line moves in from the back, and the thuggery starts.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    The coppers will rarely put themselves out to enforce peoples democratic rights, over decades liaison officers have been there to gather info not smooth the way for a great demo. It is worse these days with the multiplicity of ‘spook squads’ who treat virtually any expression of protest as a real world opportunity to use their twisted training.

    Call a cop because you have been treated unfairly at work, I don’t think so. Put on a legal picket outside a boss’s premises and the bluebellies are there in ten minutes supporting the employer. They are part of the state forces fer crissakes, don’t expect anything else.

    • KJT 4.1

      Yep. You will be down to the cop shop in jig time if you embezzle a hundred dollars off your employer, even if it was a mistake..

      If they forget to pay you $100 dollars a month then refuse to back pay it. Try and get the cops interested.

  5. Tezza 5

    I entered Symonds street at 2.30 pm it was blocked off to traffic (by police) after the Wellesley st turnoff so all traffic was diverted down Wellesley street. I parked on Princes Street which was not blocked off and went to the university.
    The protest started from the University Library at 3.00pm. The march entered Symonds street and marched on one side of the road only (the side entering the city) and had not gone far before being stopped and pushed around by the police. Symonds street was still blocked off at this point – by the police.
    Police had wagons cars and vans parked on the other side of the road.
    My question is: How can protesters marching down one side of an already blocked thoroughfare be accused of blocking that thoroughfare?
    This seemed to be a premeditated action on the part of the police.

  6. Tim 6

    So is a permit now required to march and protest? I ‘spose that’s something like giving so many days notice of an intention to strike?

    Shit – when did that happen?

    I’ve been in hybernation for a while (from memory since about 1984) – has someone redefined the meaning of facism in my absence?

    Oh, and when did the police become so namby pamby that their belts are so full of various weaponry that they waddle when they walk. I’m assuming it was around the time they put their own worst enemy in charge of representing their interests in the form of a Greg – thick-shit – O’Connor : Chief Apologist and former Captain Wunder-Cover, Hypocrite-at-large.
    The sooner the police collective lose him as a means of representing their best interests, the sooner they’ll regain some cred. But then they don’t really need credibility do they – or respect. Demanding both seems to be their Divine right over and above those they supposedly “serve”.

    Can someone tell me where I apply for permission so half a dozen mates and I can walk down Lambton Quay chanting how much we’re in love with dimocrissy, peace, love and the Merikin way?
    Is it the City Council office or Stasi HQ?

    • Carol 6.1

      I though it always was the case that permission was needed for protests. It certainly was for street protests in the UK when I was there in the late 70s. The police always wanted to authorise a route, and to prepare their troups. There was some conflict with feminist groups, for instance, wanting to take a route through specific streets in the centre of London, which the police wouldn’t allow.

  7. Te Reo Putake 7

    Just for future reference, here is the relevant section of the Ak council website. Other local councils will probably have similar user friendly pages.

  8. Rosie 8

    Hey Rocky. Thanks for posting last Sunday’s article and yesterday article outlining the progress of the Ak protests and subsequent police action. It was interesting that you made it clear about the direction of the police in regard to this particular protest, that there was a pre determined agenda on their behlaf. This approach was a topic of discussion on Radio Active’s Thursday interview they do with Alistair from Scoop. co .nz. The point was made that the police here in Wgtn would be unlikely to behave in the way that the Ak police were directed to and how this comes down to an individual and very personal directive from the cop in charge. I do recall when I saw the cops monitoring the occupy camp in civic square last year I felt a familiar anxiety at the sight of them as I’d had a very negative experience on the picket line some years back however in this particular instance they were really chilled – and apparently this was a consistant theme for the duration of the camp. This is just what I heard as I wasn’t at the camp that much and certianly not at the end. It’s sad that the Ak protesters had to face such provocative action. I want to acknowledge your stance and let you know just as one person, that watching the TV footage I felt proud to call myself an NZer which doesn’t happen often enough these days. All power to you and to everyone involved for standing up and standing strong. Kia Kaha.

  9. tony 9

    Here’s a video showing the police immediately arresting the person at the front of the march, before it has even really begun:

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