Sentencing Protest in Palmie in support of Billy McKee

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

Billy McKee is facing four charges of selling small quantities of cannabis to an undercover policeman, and one of cultivating the plant. He is being sentenced 30th October at Palmerston North High Court.

So here’s the plan, we are arriving at Palmerston North High Court on 29th October by 4:00 pm for a public display of non-violent civil disobedience at 4:20 pm, we will then picket the courthouse until 8pm at which our overnight candlelight vigil will begin, devoted to Billy McKee and in solidarity with all medical cannabis users around NZ and the world.

From 10am on 30th October we will picket the courthouse and sit with him in the courtroom until he is sentenced and freed.

Everyone is encouraged to come along. We need to people to share this event and invite their friends, social media is a very powerful tool so let’s use it!

We are traveling from around the country to support Billy McKee, who is a medical cannabis user, amputee and director of GreenCross.org.nz

Recently Green party co-Leader Meteria Turei wrote a post on frogblog about Billy’s case – Billy McKee should be discharged.

GreenCross Court Case in Palmerston North

Billy McKee, who hosts the GreenCross NZ medical cannabis users website, was arrested in 2010 on charges relating to his medical cannabis use.

Billy campaigns for legalisation of cannabis, and considers that it is one of the best medications to deal with chronic pain.

Supporters from Invercargill to Auckland converged on Palmerston North on September 3, 2012 outside the District Court to stage a peaceful protest in support of Billy Mckee.

Billy lost a leg below the knee when a drunk driver deliberately rammed his motorbike over 30 years ago. The incident resulted in him being confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain from nerve damage to the stump as well as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The pain medications he was prescribed by doctors caused intolerable side effects where even driving was considered unsafe. He found that the only thing that controlled his pain, depression, irritability and other symptoms, while still allowing him to function, was cannabis.

This led him to study the medical benefits of cannabis, become a counsellor and form GreenCross, an organisation devoted to helping sick people obtain relief through the medicinal use of cannabis.

McKee now faces jail time for running GreenCross and helping sick patients obtain their medicine.

He was entrapped by an undercover police officer posing as someone suffering from severe migraines. McKee said that migraines can indicate in the early stages of brain tumors and many people have found that cannabis relieves the symptoms of migraines and allows them to function normally.

McKee accepted the young man as being a genuine sufferer. The undercover cop appealed to his compassion in asking Billy to supply him with cannabis. Billy says, “I was really worried about him.”

As a result of trying to help someone, Billy is now facing charges that could see him sent to prison for up to eight years. Prison terms have also been imposed on other medical cannabis users due to a law that lacks compassion.

McKee, who is going to a jury trial, is calling for jury nullification of the charges of the grounds they breach his human rights.

The case continues on Tuesday morning, beginning at 10.00am in Palmerston North District Court.

Update:

Tuesday’s Court hearings were mostly held in closed Court, due to Police undercover investigators testifying. Evidence was not completed by the close of day and the hearings were adjourned until Wednesday morning.

Wednesday saw the end of evidence production and summing up by the Crown prosecutor and defense. The Jury retired at 11am to consider the charges, and came out with verdicts at 2.25pm after breaking for lunch.
Billy McKee was convicted on five charges. Sentencing has been set down for Palmerston North District Court on the 30th October, 2012. Billy has been bailed to his home address while awaiting sentencing.

Back Benches link from last night

Thanks TV7 for being such organised little bunnies, here’s that episode I was talking about in a post earlier this week.

Star of the show must be Holly Walker, who has acquitted herself very well for her first outing as a nearly-politician, on a panel decimated by winter illnesses, with Chester Burrows holding the Nat’s seat and Clair Curran speaking for Labour.

Click here for the show at TVNZ on-demand.

There’s also a bit of footage of the Cannabus crew and Billy McKee, down for an evening out before Billy’s court appearance today in Levin District Court. And some very good vox pop’s from the table of young-ish Greens who were there to support Holly, insider alert, play spot-the-Bowen-crew bingo.

Update:
And footage on TV3 here from today’s protest at Levin District Court.

Cannabus support tour comes to Wellington, and Back Benches.

I’m re-posting this on behalf of activists from Auckland and Horowhenua regions who are supporting Billy McKee, a medical cannabis user and president of Green Cross NZ, who was arrested recently and is due in Levin District Court on Thursday at 10.00am.

Wednesday 27th – CANNABUS and BACK BENCHES

The Cannabus will be driving down from The Daktory tomorrow, Wednesday, with a small crew of about 8-10 Daktavists. The bus & crew will be staying at Paraparaumu and have booked a table for 07:30pm at the Back Bencher pub for dinner & Back Benches.

The Cannabus will drive into Wellington for dinner & Back Benches before returning to Paraparaumu Wednesday night.

Please make an effort to join us at the pub if you can, we will be waving FREE BILLY MCKEE signs at the cameras at every opportunity.
Wear a NORML, Green Cross, or ALCP shirt if you have one, we should try to be as visible as possible.

Thursday 28th – LEVIN COURT & PARLIAMENT

The Cannabus will be leaving Paraparaumu for Levin Thursday morning at 08:00am from the Coastlands car park, opposite the Paraparaumu railway station.
Any cars driving from Wellington are welcome to join us at Paraparaumu to convoy on to Levin.
We will be protesting outside the court on arrival (approx. 08:40am).
We expect that Billy’s hearing will be only a short formality, so following that – The Cannabus and other vehicles will be driving into Wellington to visit Parliament, to deliver letters for MPs and Ministers and to stage a protest.

Things I’m looking after:
Making printed FREE BILLY MCKEE signs
Printing FREE BILLY MCKEE flyers and petition
Writing letter for my MP, and for Ministers to deliver to Parliament
Housing the Cannabus crew

Things I need somebody/everybody else to look after:
Contact media
Write letter to MP, and to Ministers to deliver to Parliament
Organise for Hutt & Wellington people to get to Paraparaumu/Levin
Print petition and collect signatures
Organise to collect donations for Billy
Help with housing Cannabus crew
Everything else I forgot to mention here…

I have not contacted Parliament Security to tell them we will be visiting, if anyone would like to look after that, let me know, or we just swarm the place unannounced.
Once again, apologies for the short notice, please help if you can, all efforts to help Billy will be very much appreciated.

thanks, Gary Chiles 021 157 3862

Any local Greens who would like to support Billy McKee are welcome to join the dactavists at Back Benches on Wednesday, or in the activities planned for Thursday – get in touch with Gary if you want to liase with their convoy.

Update Wednesday evening:
Back Benches was awesome tonite, and there was a last-minute change to the line-up so Holly Walker had a spot on the panel, as Metiria Turei was unable to be present. So double fun, lots of Green presence, and I will write another post about this tomorrow, and link to the TVNZ on-demand playback, which will go up on their website sometime Thursday.
Billy McKee, the support crew and the Cannabus got a reasonable amount of joshing from Wallace Chapman, and fliers were waved at cameras.

In case you missed it

There was an excellent documentary shown on TV3’s Inside New Zealand show, linked below, discussing the ongoing debate about decriminalisation of cannabis use in New Zealand. Dakta Green, aka Ken Morgan, speaks frankly about his campaigning through NORML and the West Auckland property he has converted from warehousing into The Daktory, a ‘member’s only’ cannabis club.

There is also commentary from lawyers, drug harm reduction researchers and health officials in NZ, UK, and Australia, and a segment from Warren Young of the Law Commission, who have released a report on the Review of the 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act, which recommends changes to the legislation.

http://ondemand.tv3.co.nz/Inside-New-Zealand-High-Time/tabid/59/articleID/3498/MCat/342/Default.aspx

I thoroughly recommend anyone to view this, it covers all of the issues very well, in a fair and unbiased way. Incidentally, it includes some footage of Billy McKee taken at his home in Levin, showing the extent of his disability and the way in which he medically uses dried cannabis as an infusion to drink, and a poultice for muscular pain. This was aired just after Billy’s arrest, but produced some weeks ago, as it mentions Dakta Green’s recent conviction, but not Billy’s arrest last week.

For those who are interested, the NZ Law Commission’s report is available here, which can be downloaded as two .pdf files.

Police arrest Green Cross activist.

I’ve been in a bad mood for a few days now, over what I consider to be a totally unnecessary piece of harrassment that an activist friend of mine is currently enduring. Yes, I’ve ranted before about unjust behaviour from the Police, but this time I am truly on the warpath.

My friend’s name is Billy McKee, he lives in Levin, a small town in the Horowhenua about an hour north of Wellington (depending on where you start, lol, or maybe an hour and a half!). He’s an amputee, on a low income, and suffers a lot of pain. He wears a metal prosthetic leg when he’s out and about, but has a wheelchair around home. He’s come down from the Horowhenua to join in Green events many times, most recently we stood together on Parliament grounds on Budget Day to protest the cuts that were to be announced that afternoon, waving a big Green Party banner on the Seddon memorial in the front of the steps.

He’s also the President of an organisation called Greencross NZ, a local branch of the international Green Cross organisation. He lobbies, with other members, to gain legislation to allow medpot, a form of cannabis which is legal, available on prescription, and pharmaceutically prepared in dose limited quantities. This is available to medical cannabis users overseas, and is a compassionate and side-effect free way of managing pain and nausea for many terminal conditions, as well as for chronic pain conditions suffered by many who have had back injuries or head injuries.

Billy was arrested by Police from the Horowhenua CIB last Friday, 8th July, and was taken into custody in his wheelchair. He has been trying to arrange legal aid so that he can be bailed, but in the meantime has had his computer taken by the Police, and earlier today they asked the webhoster to shut down the Green Cross website.

There are concerned members of Green Cross all over the country, along with NORML members and Green members from Horowhenua and elsewhere, trying to find out what state Billy is in, whether his medical needs are being met, and trying to understand why arresting a pensioner with disabilities is the best the CIB can do with their resources.

Here’s a clip about medical cannabis (featuring Billy speaking):

And here’s where you can read current Green policy on medical cannabis on the Green’s website.

This arrest of a man who is solely concerned with harm reduction and compassionate use of medical marijuana is sufficient to make me feel very annoyed with the next Police force member I come in contact with.
It’s been an ongoing joke amongst my activist friends that I need restraint to stop me from kicking a policeman. This time I may just get around to doing that.
I’m sure they won’t mind manhandling a nearly-pensionable disabled lady, either, as they arrest me. I’ve seen them assault people before and then charge the assaulted protester with assaulting a policeman, so my opinion of those who police political activists is pretty low.

UPDATE:
Billy has commented below that he has made a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority. They are contactable at 0800 503 728.

Another supporter on a different website has posted information which may be used to tell the Police how much you think this arrest stinks, so I’m going to quote it verbatim:

Here are the contact details of the officer in charge of Billy’s home invasion. If anyone would like to share some feedback with him

Sarn Paroli
Detective Sergeant
O/C Horowhenua CIB
DDI: 06 366 0522
Internal: 65422
Cell Phone: 027 276 4341

Email: Sarn.Paroli@police.govt.nz

Some people aren’t comfortable with direct complaint to the Police.
There’s also the option of complaining to the Minister of Police or the Minister of Justice. That’s a freepost letter to ‘The Hon (MP name), Parliament Buildings, Wellington’, or you can e-mail them – all addresses are held on the http://www.parliament.nz website. Current MP’s details are here.
Or you can contact your local MP and say that as a constituent, you think this behaviour by our law enforcement officers stinks.