In the early hours of the morning of 2 March 2022 - in a police action that will go down in infamy in our history, and which has severely undermined public trust in New Zealand’s police - they descended upon the peaceful people while they were sleeping. There were hundreds of them and the majority had their badge numbers concealed with masking tape.
I have always had the utmost respect for the New Zealand police. The men and women of the force who have sworn to serve and protect us, uphold the Law, assist in matters of justice, and keep us safe so we may sleep soundly at night. The men and women who put their safety, well-being and sometimes lives on the line for us.
After witnessing, first-hand, the brutal attacks on innocent and mostly peaceful protesters at Parliament on March 2 2022, my respect for, and trust in the New Zealand police have been severely eroded.
The level of violence perpetrated on Kiwis by the police was something I never, ever thought I would witness from police on their own people.
In hindsight, perhaps we should have been prepared for their brutality. They had already shown us all what they were capable of, on the third day of the protest – that fateful February 10 2022 – which saw the rough arrests of 122 peaceful souls, and brutal injuries to many more.
These were the people, and they were merely trying to stand their ground and bravely defend their right to peacefully protest. They were randomly dragged from the crowd, thrown to the ground and beaten – at times, savagely.
Strangely, in the following days, police backed off, possibly because footage of their cruelty had gone viral and had been seen around the world, to much opprobrium.
Once they realised they needed to be human and humane, police were seen tapping their toes to bands’ music. One officer danced with a young teenage girl. Some were nodding in agreement with speakers who were asking for the mandates to be dropped to ease the People’s suffering, while also calling for someone, anyone, from Parliament to come out and speak with the People.
Police and the mainstream media (MSM) lied – daily – about the nature of the protest and the happenings there. They claimed children were playing amongst faeces, or that faeces had been thrown at police, or that elderly people, city workers and children on their way to a nearby school or people wearing masks were being abused.
There was footage of the schoolgirls walking through the Freedom Village laughing together and enjoying themselves in the safety and welcome of it all. There was never one arrest for any of the supposed negative behaviours claimed in repeated reports from MSM.
I, for one, did not witness anything but love, care, joy and support from any of the protesters in the encampment.
Yes in the first couple of days there were a small few, justifiably angry people there who, through the mandates, had lost their income, their jobs, even their homes, and who talked of being denied access to family, friends and many services. But if any of them began to cause trouble they were quietly calmed down by the wonderful protest security. If they showed determination to escalate matters and damage the prevailing peace, they were escorted off the grounds.
Speaking on TVNZ’s Q&A programme on February 20, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said police planned to work with protest organisers to try and achieve de-escalation.
“Police will continue to work with them (protest leaders) in good faith to resolve issues.” “I think the police could clear the protest but the harm caused wouldn’t be acceptable”, Coster added.
He suggested that one tactic would be to use force to drive the crowds away, similar to the force used in the 1980s, during the Springbok Tour, “but that was a low point in New Zealand’s history….violence used during the Springbok Tour meant there had been a loss of trust in police” and he underlined that he wanted to explore all other options.
Police broke their promise to allow access to the protest for those delivering food and donations and to allow the portaloo truck access to evacuate the loos. Then they took them. Gouging the eyes of a man – later to become known as Portaloo Phil – who was in a chain of people surrounding the loos in an attempt to prevent their removal.
The smear campaign and daily sewer of lies continued.
Police and MSM claimed that waste from the toilets – which ingenious kiwis at the protest had constructed after losing the portaloos – was being pumped into the Wellington harbour. And that sexual assaults had occurred within the camp. Yet Wellington City Council had previously inspected the cleverly-built toilets and already confirmed that they had been plumbed into the sewerage system.
As for the hysteria around MSM reports of sexual assault, no charges have ever been laid, no evidence proferred, and no further mention has been made since by our increasingly shady MSM.
On February 28, the leader of the Maori Government was contacted by the Police negotiating team asking for an audience to resolve the situation at Parliament.
Arikinui Ripekatangi, on behalf of Pau Arahi Tumuaki, Maori Government Aotearoa Nu Tireni wrote:
On March 1 2022 the Maori Government engaged in good faith discussion with representatives of the protest in Wellington and members of the NZ Police negotiation team. An agreement was made to hold a hui over the weekend of 4/5/6 March 2022 whereby the 2 sides could discuss reasonable, practicable steps to achieve a peaceable resolution.
Part of the agreement was that no hostile action would be undertaken and the email confirming this was sent on behalf of the Maori Government to the NZP on 1 March 2022 at 22.50pm.
That night police removed and trashed the toilets and the generously donated and beautifully built shower block, shipped in earlier to counter despicable government lies about the filth of the protesters.
In the early hours of the morning of 2 March 2022 – in a police action that will go down in infamy in our history, and which has severely undermined public trust in New Zealand’s police – they descended upon the peaceful people while they were sleeping. There were hundreds of them and the majority had their badge numbers concealed with masking tape.
There were many families camping on the grounds, with young and vulnerable children who had been happy in the camp and enjoying the daily activities set up for them: art classes, homeschooling, skateboarding, music sessions and basketball, as well as the delicious, healthy food and the warm clothing, all given for free to help struggling families who were camping there to register their vast losses from both the mandates and the ensuing exclusions from society. How did those children cope on that fateful day of police violence towards their innocent parents?
One of the most powerful questions a journalist can ask is “why”? What changed?
In an interview with TVNZ Q&A of February 20, 2022, Coster, under pressure over his handling of the occupation at Parliament, said he would not be drawn on whether he was confident he would retain his job. He acknowledged that there was a “wide variety of views” among the public of his performance. Was his job on the line?
Coster stated police would not use excessive weapons against the people. But that early morning raid included gas canisters being thrown into tents where people were sleeping, including a mother and her four-year-old daughter who was also trampled by police and ended up in a critical condition in ICU. Thankfully she has recovered.
Five children in a tent were pepper-sprayed, as were numerous adults. Police shot rounds of rubber bullets into the crowds, bashed people with their shields, sprayed people with fire extinguishers and commandeered the fire service’s high-pressure hoses and turned them on us.
They had knuckle dusters under their gloves and batons.
Again, while being interviewed by TVNZ Q&A in the aftermath, MSM journalist Jack Tame asked Coster, “One thing that was interesting to me was that the vast majority of officers on the ground did not have batons. Why was that?”In the face of much-filmed footage showing the exact opposite of his claims, Coster replied:
“We have been determined with this to use the minimum necessary force to effect our purpose…as protester force increased… that led them to use pepper spray. So the tactics were used in a restrained way and you simply won’t see a more restrained resolution of that situation anywhere else in the world.”
EMF and sonic weaponry were also employed by police throughout the latter days of the protest, as attested to by psyops expert Adam Jackson, who was at the Freedom Village. He explained that these are, “devices of enhanced interrogation tactics designed to break down the minds of the protestors. This is using a weapon against its own population. Our Government is attacking its own people. There is no justification for this. None.”
Many protestors suffered blisters, burns to their skin and ulcers in their mouths as a result of the psyops weaponry turned on them. Others suffered severe headaches and nausea. The medical tent was overrun and administrators were calling out for assistance in helping to treat those suffering.
Police – and their hired help and agents of chaos- were the provocateurs. Any violence on the part of the true protesters was in self-defence or defence of others. And towards the end of that day of brutish police violence, when some of the protesters may have become overwhelmed and retaliated, who could blame them?
Much of the police brutality was directed at vulnerable people who were innocently standing by – women and elderly men. Cowards.
Police claimed that they were pepper-sprayed by protesters and had earlier even asserted- backed up by unverified MSM reportage- that they had had acid thrown in their faces. But, again, where is the evidence of this?
If they had had acid thrown in their faces they would have been hospitalised with grave, critical injuries, fighting for their lives.
Coster, in the interview with TVNZ Q&A following the raid, said that eight officers who had been hospitalised had “certainly in many cases” been injured by protesters with “head injuries from bricks, leg injuries from falling into a drain that had been opened up…lacerations, concussion. Thankfully all of them were discharged from hospital within 24 hours … and we are very thankful that we didn’t experience any more serious injuries than we did.”
When questioned about the claims that officers had had acid thrown in their faces Coster replied, “I don’t have the details on that. The bottom line is that police experienced a lot of abuse … not from everybody, but there was a constant undercurrent.”
No mention of the injuries to protesters then, one of whom sustained a broken hip, another a broken shoulder, yet another a broken leg and another broken ribs – to describe but a few of the many injuries that have been confirmed.
Police claimed paint-filled projectiles, homemade plywood shields and pitchforks were used as weapons against them. Again, where is the evidence? MSM can’t provide it, despite One News live streaming the entire event, and we’ve seen nothing in terms of evidence of these claims from the police.
The thing about a livestream is that it is not edited. Therefore it cannot lie and is true to context.
There were many independent journalists live streaming that day but only one MSM entity.
It was deeply disturbing, then, to see that when police were assaulting one man, the person filming turned away.In another incident when a police officer realised that his fellow thugs were beating a man already down on the ground with his hands behind his back, he stepped in front of the camera to hide the scene. This person was later described as a diabetic who had a full-on diabetic attack in the police cells later following this brutal and intentional beating.
Police also claimed that protesters deliberately started a fire in a tent. These supposed “protesters” were wearing balaclavas and bandanna masks, something none of us saw being worn by any actual protesters in the preceding three weeks of peaceful occupation. Independent media journalist Chantelle Baker actually unmasked one of these thugs on her live stream.
The anti-fascist group ANTIFA took credit for the fire, posting this on their Facebook page. The post was taken down within minutes.
And as the fire took hold, a line of police stood mutely watching, doing nothing. In the same TVNZ Q&A interview with Jack Tame, Coster would not commit to answering a question about whether there were undercover police infiltrating the protest but his admission that there “were people reporting back” was sinister and chilling.
A further accusation made by police was that protesters ripped up bricks serving as borders for Parliament gardens and hurled them. But I find this picture tells a thousand words.
The shocking truth of 2 March 2022 is that the NZ police attacked innocent people and destroyed their property, and thereby violated and utterly ruined the trust so many good Kiwis had previously had in them.
Conversations around the country now discount any respect for the police force, for their violence towards innocence and for the lies coming from their exposed and virulent hierarchy.
One heartbreaking moment was when a man broke down in floods of tears, sobbing that no one from our Government, which is supposed to serve its people, would even come out and talk to us during the whole peaceful and warm and family atmosphere of the occupation of OUR parliamentary grounds.
In her equally questionable acolyte, Coster then praised police professionalism and restraint, unconscionably adding that he was incredibly proud.
“I was blown away by the quality of what I saw play out this week. It exceeded my expectations.”
I have spoken to current and former police officers – many of whom are personal friends – who have been deeply saddened by the events of February 10 and March 2. Some of them have resigned. The wrongdoing they saw has robbed them of any pride in the Police whom they previously served. They feel ashamed. Their moral code will not allow them to remain in such a lawless group of supposed law enforcers.
The Maori Government’s letter went on to say:
“On the early morning of March 2 when the commissioner ordered the police to use force, this was in direct breach of (our) agreement, an act of bad faith and a violation of their oath to the People.
Maori Government strongly condemns the actions of police against the demonstrably peaceful protesters. These actions have brought shame upon our nation.”
There have been nearly 1900 complaints to the Independent Police Conduct Authority about police actions during the protest. The IPCA announced last night, 24 March, that “the authority will undertake an independent investigation/review of policing of the protest” to be completed and reported on by 31 March 2023.
I would be loath to tar an entire group with the same brush, but whichever way you paint it, the police brutality on that fateful day of March 2 2022, presents a heartbreaking picture.
No New Zealander should be proud of a police force willing to execute such brutal force on its own people. Much public trust in, and respect for the police justifiably evaporated on that shameful day. It will take a long time to rebuild that trust, if ever.