Occupy Wellington

I’ve held off from commenting on this affair until now, as I wanted to get a feel of how the media was handling it, whether facts were being published, and how the Occupy Aotearoa project was coming along.

There have been some interesting things going on. Occupy Wellington has a distributed leadership consensus decision-making group, which holds twice daily general assemblies of all attending the occupation, and is generally allowing allcomers to participate, discuss, vent, and help put plans together.

There have been a few issues, at first mainly weather related (one structure was re-assembled three times in as many days…), but as time has gone by a few personalities have become problems. There are sufficient skills in facilitation within the group that such issues have been quietly and firmly dealt with, although one disruptive visitor has been identified by Police as someone they want to remove from Wellington environs, so reluctantly an agreement was made that they would be contacted if he showed up again; when he did this was communicated to him and he went away immediately after yelling abuse at the ‘hospitality’ team, shouting that it was all lies. But the fact that he wasn’t keen to hang around and dispute the topic (his usual behaviour) gives the lie to his protestations, and to my knowledge he hasn’t been seen since.

Liason with Police and City Council has been positive and open from early days. A ‘hospitality’ roster keeps the camping area safe from random pillaging, whilst also functioning as a meet’n’greet point for visitors, media, and those who are staying overnight but have jobs or study to go to during the day. Organisation of food, waste disposal, recycling and workshops is happening in an organically fluid way, as people volunteer to work on various tasks and rotate as they become interested in different aspects of keeping this kind of action going.

Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) principles are being followed in planning any kind of satellite action and with the discussion group structure working well, there is sufficient input to utilise all available skillsets, whilst also having critical oversight from those campers who have more extensive experience in running demo’s, marches, protests or occupations.

There are also Occupy groups running in Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau, New Plymouth/Taranaki, Christchurch/Otautahi, Dunedin/Otepoti, and a satellite of the Christchurch occupation at Nelson.
Some of these groups are in contact with each other, due to affinity group connections between individual campers.

There’s a lot of chatter on FB, Twitter, and mainstream media, not all of it accurate or positive about the events or meanings of these actions. Occupy Wellington has its own webpage here, which is being updated sporadically by various people. There are some workshops planned for Labour Day (monday) with a schedule here, and there’s a ‘blogroll’ of media reports here.

In the interests of fair and unbiased reporting, I have to state that I spent 3 nights camping at the Occupy Wellington site; my tent is still there, in someone else’s use, as I’ve slunk home to try to cure a dose of ‘flu. I admit to being closely linked to quite a few of those who are core to this occupation action, and I 100% support what they are doing.

As usual, here’s a few pix to finish off with. Not sweary at all, totally SFW.

Green Mana electorate candidate Jan Logie with supporters on day one.

Green Mana electorate candidate Jan Logie with supporters on day one.


General Assembly on the warm bricks, late afternoon, day one

General Assembly on the warm bricks, late afternoon, day one


70's retro peace and love... day two

70's retro peace and love... day two


placard, day two

placard, day two


the growing campsite, day two

the growing campsite, day two


Loaned tent, replacing storm-damaged wharenui tarp, day three

Loaned tent, replacing storm-damaged wharenui tarp, day three


A dry blackboard, workshops notices day three

A dry blackboard, workshops notices day three


golden clouds as dusk falls over the encampment, day three

golden clouds as dusk falls over the encampment, day three


sunshine after rain, laundry out to dry, day four

sunshine after rain, laundry out to dry, day four


donations of fruit were placed on the open table, compost bin at the ready, day four

donations of fruit were placed on the open table, compost bin at the ready, day four

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Solidarity gig in Wellington

Gig poster

Gig poster


Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the raids in Ruatoki and other places, so there’s a few events to mark the passage of this time.

14th October – Solidarity gig in Wellington

An amazing line-up of musicians including Riki Gooch, Imon Starr, Mara TK, and Bennie Tones will play a free gig at the Southern Cross on Friday, October 14th to celebrate the solidarity and support given to the many people involved in the Urewera case over the past four years.

FREE Gig to commemorate the four-year anniversary of the State Terror Raids on communities throughout Aotearoa, and to celebrate the on-going solidarity and support for the defendants.

Featuring Riki Gooch, Mara TK, Imon Starr, Vanessa Stacey, DJ Hammondhead, Mikki D, Sheeq n La, and Benny Tones.

Venue: Southern Cross, Abel Smith Street, Wellington
Date: 14th October 2011
Time: from 9pm

Operation 8: Deep in the forest

There are opportunities around the country to see the ‘Operation 8’ documentary. The film is now also available on DVD. Have a look in your local DVD store for a copy. For more information see
http://cutcutcut.com/Operation8.html

Waiheke – Waiheke Cinema
Friday, 14 Oct, 8pm

Devenport – Victoria Picture Palace
Thursday, 13 Oct, 3pm
Friday, 14 Oct, 3pm
Saturday, 15 Oct, 3pm
Sunday, 16 Oct, 3pm
Monday, 17 Oct, 3pm
Tuesday, 18 Oct, 3pm
Wednesday, 19 Oct, 3pm

Auckland – Academy Cinema
Thursday, 13 Oct, 12.30pm
Friday, 14 Oct, 12.30pm
Saturday, 15 Oct, 3.45pm
Sunday, 16 Oct, 3.45pm
Monday, 17 Oct, 12.30pm
Tuesday, 18 Oct, 12.30pm
Wednesday, 19 Oct, 12.30pm

Raglan – The Old School
Friday, 14 Oct, 7.30pm

Whakatane – Cinema 5
15 Oct – time tbc

New Plymouth – Arthouse Cinema
17 Oct – time tbc

Wellington – The Paramount
Saturday, 15 Oct, 11.45am
Saturday, 15 Oct, 6.15pm

Dunedin – Metro Cinema
Screenings start 15 Oct

Keith Locke’s final Back Benches appearance

Keith with Damian and Wallace

Keith with Damian and Wallace

Wednesday night at the Back Benches pub across from Parliament is turning into a bit of a regular affair for the youth wings of most of the parties – last night was no exception as Young Greens (and a few older folk) turned out to support Green MP Keith Locke, who is leaving Parliament at this election after twelve years of service as a Member. The panel consisted of Labour Deputy PM, the Hon Annette King, and National’s MP for Wairarapa, John Hayes, along with Keith. Minor cameo to Labour candidate for Wairarapa, civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott, who propped up the bar while enjoying John Hayes increasingly uninformative responses.

It’s been an interesting week in politics – Suffrage Day on Monday, 19th September got a mention, along with our figures for gender pay inequity; there is of course the rushing through of the Search and Surveillance Bill under urgency, which got quite a bit of time; and lest we forget, Rugby was a winner on the night too, especially for Tonga up in Northland Stadium. Sex education had been a hot topic over the weekend papers, so convicted paedophile Graham Capill’s former colleague from United Future party, now the leader of the Kiwi Party, was dragged in to discuss the ‘christian’ position on just how much adolescents going through puberty need to know about what the changes in their bodies mean. I wonder if he supports the concept that children should have the right to tell an adult not to sexually abuse them? Oh, that’s right, if they don’t know the words to use to name sexual acts, they can’t complain about them? Yeah right …. Young Labour supporters were sensible and coherent by comparison, speaking very well about what kind of sex education adolescents need.

Police Association president Greg O’Connor got his fifteen minutes to defend the illegal actions of Police officers, to the noisy disapproval of a large proportion of the crowd. Got very close to contempt of Court by criticising the Supreme Court decision, but then pulled himself up when asked for clarification by Damian Christie. Fascinating. The arrogance of sworn officers who maintain that their criminal activity is different to any other citizen’s criminal activity is mind-blowing.

But don’t take my word for it, feel free to watch the episode on TVNZ On-demand here.

Dropping the Charges

Unconditional

Unconditional love, solidarity, freedom

It’s been a long, hard haul since October 15th, 2007.
State terrorists kidnapped my friends that day, and terrorised hundreds of ordinary residents going about their daily activities in the Bay of Plenty – not that we knew that initially here in Wellington.

The parents at Te Aro school were greeted by big black SUV’s parked up in the playground, here.
They were told they weren’t to speak of this to anyone, as their already cramped school had classrooms removed from teaching and pressed into service as the HQ for the special squad of Police in AOS and riot squad uniforms.

One of those parents spoke to me almost immediately about it – a former journalist, she was appalled that the Police so casually intimidated the entire parent body of their small, liberal community into silence.

So when the reports began to come through about the way in which the town of Ruatoki was shut down, and how travellers, school children and residents in the Bay of Plenty towns nearby were stopped and searched, I knew right away that our mostly white, mostly middle-class and mostly university-educated community had been treated completely differently.

When I finally had the opportunity to talk with my friends who were arrested, they confirmed that they were treated respectfully; no guns were held to their heads, no children were separated from their parents to sit in an old shed for hours with no water, food, fresh nappies for the babies, no access to them for their parents, aunts, uncles, granma’s … these are the facts I have carried in my head, to my shame, to the shame of all pakeha in this country, Aotearoa/New Zealand.

This shame has made me angry.
That anger at times was powerful, an energy that helped me carry on, attending meetings, participating in fundraisers to help cover legal fees and costs of travel and accommodation for the arrestees and their families.
When the anger ran out and I got tired, I wept with those others whose whanau were hurting; in marae and homes around the country, on various occasions, I listened as aunties, granmas and uncles spoke about the way their family members were coping or not coping, how the children were reacting to the memory of the raids, their fear of the Police returning again.

So now I issue this challenge: now that the Police case, Operation 8, has been found to be inadmissable, I want Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White removed from his post, and returned to the country he came from.
No more racist policing from him or his minions, thank-you very much.
The Anti-terror Unit has failed badly in it’s prosecution of Ahmed Zauoi, and it has failed again badly in this Operation 8. Flawed assumptions, failed communication; using a template for policing developed in another country, to address concerns not of our making, is a huge failure.

So ‘man up’, New Zealand Police. I call upon the Police Commissioner to take responsibility for the failures made by the ATU, by it’s commanding officer and by each member of that exclusive, elite team. This is not the future we want or need in New Zealand. And those guys have cost our country too much already, get rid of them before yet another piece of flawed reasoning creates another costly debacle.

Then there’s the issue of compensation for loss of employment, loss of enjoyment, and in the case of Tuhoe Lambert, loss of life. There’s the cost of incarceration, the legal fees, the vast and incomprehensible waste of time and money that has been Operation 8. That has already been commented on by Te Ururoa Flavell, here, and at the Hand Mirror by Maia, here.

Tonite, I’m celebrating the demise of this case. This afternoon, knowing the charges had been dropped, but not being able to articulate my feelings, I came home and cooked up a storm in the kitchen in my flat. Just as Sam Buchanan calmly put together a huge tray of apple pie in the kitchen at 128 on the afternoon of the raids, so I threw my energy into making a gluten-free apple pie, and a cassarole for dinner.
It was only as I dished up the meal that I remembered Sam’s epic foresight in preparing some comforting sustenance for those who would arrive at 128 during that day.
So yes, we’ve had our hakari here; but tonite has been a bitter celebration as I think of all that has happened in the intervening almost four years since the raids, all the pain and anger and fear and frustration expressed in our affinity circles.

Ka whaiwhai tonu maatou, ake ake ake. Arohatinonui a koutou katoa, nga anarkia me ngai Tuuhoe.

Tuhoe

Te Mana Motuhake o Tuuhoe

A quick update:
There has been a lot of media on this, and I missed a few pieces last night.
Honourable mention to the Otago Daily Times, one of our last fully-NZ-owned daily print newspapers, for this piece quoting Green MP Keith Locke, and Morning Report on Radio NZ National today came along with this, after broadcasting this earlier. TV3’s early news spoke with John Minto this morning as well, video link here. Another news article from TV3 here, posted Tuesday, profiling union activist Omar Hamed, arrested in Auckland.

OPERATION 8 DVD LAUNCH PARTY!

DVD image

Tonite, 12 August · 7pm to 11pm

13 Garrett St, Level 2 (Just off Cuba St), Wellington

7pm Sharp – Karakia

Intro: Abi King-Jones, Errol Wright

Korero: Moana Winitana, Annette Sykes, Ati Teepa

Poetry: Ken Vicious

Music: Upper Hutt Posse, Acoustic Activists, Don Franks, DJ Hammond Head, Vanessa Stacy

The DVD launch is being hosted by the ‘Concerned Citizens’ at their art gallery space; level 2, 13 Garrett St (just off Cuba St).
The event is will be similar to an art exhibition opening rather than a formal seated event, although there is seating available.
There will be refreshments, nibbles, tea and coffee available after the Karakia.

police, agents, informants & spies (public & private) are not invited

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.

Concerned Citizens Exhibition opening in Wellington

Concerned Citizens launched their fundraising exhibition at their temporary gallery space in Garrett St, Te Aro, last night.
A good crowd attended the opening, with viewing beginning at 4.30pm, accompanied by mulled wine, homebrew beer, and a choice of non-alcoholic hot and cold drinks.

After a formal welcome and Karakia by Moana Winitana around 7pm, Food not Bombs crew served snacks, and a little later Frances Mountier from October 15th Solidarity spoke for a few minutes about the background to the raids. She then introduced Nicky Hager, who gave an informative talk on the wider issues around the TSA and the Operation 8 raids, with time for some questions afterwards.

At 8pm, Abi King-Jones introduced a showing of “Operation 8: Deep in the forest”, which a large crowd stayed to watch. The movie is also showing on general release at cinema theatres around the country at present. View the trailer here: Operation 8

The exhibition is open until Sunday evening, 11am-8pm each day, with all works for sale by silent auction. More information at Concerned Citizens

early on in the exhibition viewing

early on in the exhibition viewing

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager in full flight, watched by Frances Mountier

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager in full flight, watched by Frances Mountier

UPDATE:
From the Concerned Citizens Collective –

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to let you all know that as we realise more and more the scope of opening the auction up to global bidders via the internet, it would be AMAZING if you could tell ANYONE IN THE WORLD that’s interested in

A. Supporting a struggle against human rights abuses in New Zealand, and the rest of the world

and/or

B. Buying amazing art from up and coming and established New Zealand artists

that they NEED to go to www.concernedcitizens.co.nz and place their bids NOW! All works can be viewed on the website. BIDDING WILL CLOSE AT 8PM SHARP!
If everything works out, there will be a live video feed of the bidding war at Garrett Street from 6-8pm tonight, and the auction will be led by prominent Springbok tour protest organiser John Minto and alleged “terrorist” Valerie Morse. There will be bus launching! There will be George W Bush look-alikes!

In addition, PLEASE let anyone you know in Wellington that is also interested in A and/or B, tell them that between 4 and 8pm today, there will be a bidding war party at the Garrett Street exhibition space, with leading bids projected, John and Val’s spectacular visual display of the running total of funds raised. Come and hang out and bring as much as you like to drink/eat and partake in the festivities! There will be mulled wine and home brew but we’re worried it may run out before the auction closes.

Thank you so much everyone for your support!

Stunts on the Beehive lawn!

To promote an Art Gallery exhibition which opens tomorrow, a group called Concerned Citizens is planning a re-creation of a claim used in the Pascoe Affadavit to arrest one of the accused in Operation 8.
So they’ve built a catapault, and will test launching bus-shaped items at an actor standing in for George Bush, outside Parliament tomorrow around noon.

Media release here: Scoop.

Testing the bus-catapault in Glover Park today

Testing the bus-catapault in Glover Park today

F*** da Police

Maintenance of public safety should be the highest policing priority, and speed on our roads is one of the greatest threats to public safety. The Police have done a great job in recent years getting our road toll down. Now it seems their capacity to continue to improve road safety is threatened.

The Southland Times reports:

New Zealand Police have begun removing speed detection radars from vehicles throughout the country in what frontline officers say is a cost-cutting measure that could also cost lives.

A police national headquarters spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that some radars had been removed from vehicles, as part of a “replacement programme”…

Frontline officers told The Southland Times they had been told up to 400 Stalker detection units, which are leased, were to be removed from police vehicles as part of efforts to cut $21 million from the police operating budget.

They said officers using vehicles from which the radar sets had been removed were trying to do their jobs without them and they feared many speeding motorists would now escape without penalty.

And in a follow up article:

Like hardened speedsters avoiding radar traps, police dodged and evaded yesterday when questioned about the number of speed detection radar sets they are removing from patrol cars throughout the country, and why it is being done.

Frontline officers said they believed the sets were leased from a United States manufacturer and were being removed and sent back as a cost-cutting measure, part of a programme to shed $21 million from the Police budget.

However, national police headquarters would not even confirm yesterday that the sets were leased.

Police have acknowledged that Stalker radars are being removed from some cars as part of a “replacement and maintenance programme” but refused again yesterday to provide details on the numbers being removed, or whether all were to be replaced.

Why the evasiveness? Successive Police Ministers have often used the “operational independence” of the Police to avoid answering questions about Police operational matters. Now we see the Police themselves avoiding answering questions about operational matters that should be very easy for them to answer.

This comes on top of the NZ Herald revealing that over 300 fewer Police patrol cars may be on the roads as a result of cost-cutting measures. Police Commissioner Howard Broad refused to comment on that one too.

There is a distinct whiff of political interference in the Police refusal to give straight answers. Not a good look.

Someone has to be accountable, be it Commissioner Broad or Minister Judith Collins.