Plato versus the Police.
Eyewitness to Police Brutality, from Linda M, Socialist Aotearoa.
report is based on what I personally observed. I was present for the
entire protest and recorded much of it. I have also seen recordings of
other parts I did not directly witness, and spoke to many students
involved, from the very start, all the way to the concluding meeting in
the Quad after 7PM.
To make it absolutely clear, I saw no
violence or provocation from the students whatsoever at any time during
the protest. I do not consider shouting and moving about to be violent
or provocative, but are natural to protests. The students were severely
provoked, but they kept it together, and were incredibly disciplined. I
was very proud of them and their good conduct.
there were more than 1000 students, though only a quarter were actively
participating in the action. The rest were just observing. Though the
police were surrounded, the students were not menacing the police in any
way. The sit-down was very orderly, and when police drew perimeters,
the students respected them, even going so far as to walk around the
block to cross the street. The students were in no way a threat to the
The peaceful intentions of the students were very clear
from the start. A large sound system was brought, and Dr. Campbell
Jones attempted to deliver a teach-in on Plato. However as soon as Dr.
Jones began to read, the police moved in on the students, which caused
an immediate ruckus, and Dr. Jones' lecture was drowned out. That
appeared to me to be a deliberate move by the police to disrupt the
The students were systematically arrested one by one for
"blocking the road", yet it was the police vehicles which were blocking
one half of the road, the half where the students were. On the other
half of the road the students allowed traffic to continue, and for a
time buses and cars traveled down the road, but the police stopped them.
Cones could have been set up earlier and traffic directed around the
students. There was no need to block off the entire street. At no time
did the students block both sides of the road except when trying to
cross Symonds street en masse. Even afterward, after they went onto
Queen Street, the students remained respectful of drivers. Students
brought traffic cones with them to help keep good order on the roads and
prevent drivers from being confused. That showed a lot of intelligence
and foresight on their part.
From the outset, until they
finally decamped, a minority of police officers were very aggressive,
making it appear as if the majority were violent. Two officers in
particular were throwing dangerous punches, and one young woman, Rachel,
the first to be arrested was being choked as she was dragged off. She
had not been aggressive or provocative in any way. This incident was
I would also like to say I was particularly
distressed to see Omar punched in the throat the way he was. He did not
retaliate in any way, he just shrugged it off, but he could have been
very seriously injured.
Tom also got punched from what I could see, but he did not respond in kind either.
Nico was also bleeding from the forehead, though I did not see that
incident, I understand it was due to having his head pressed into the
street with excessive force.
The police were just over the top.
There was no need for that. Their violence did not accomplish
anything except energize the students and make them more determined.
Had the police allowed the teach-in to take place, I believe that the
students would not have left the area, and would have drifted off before
5. Instead, the students were very agitated after the high number of
arrests and the attempts by the police to thwart their activities.
Driven away from Symonds street, they went searching for an outlet for
their energies and to protest in other locations. However, though there
was a lot of running and stopping and blockading, there was no property
damage or aggression at any time throughout their procession. The
students protested at Central Police Station, twice in Queen Street and
at Sky City without incident. I do not believe a single public
complaint has been filed against them.
The students are to be
commended for their discipline, in spite of severe provocation. I am
sure that provided the Police do not do worse next time, the students
will continue to be peaceful in their campaign. The students have a
right to protest, they have genuine grievances that need to be heard,
and they should be allowed to hold their blockades without fear of being