Media Statement by combined protest groups.
A clear pattern is emerging of Police manipulation, with them more focused on ‘PR wins’ in the media than actual policing. The depths they are stooping to will shock New Zealanders.
1. Yesterday, Police threatened protest leaders with blocking service vehicles from emptying portaloos.
Taking a leaf out of Trevor Mallard’s widely mocked playbook, Police threatened to deny toileting to get protestors to meet their demands to move cars within the agreed protest area. This was in full knowledge the action would create a public health issue. Police know approximately 20 percent of people on site are young children and those aged 60 plus. 55 percent are women
2. On Tuesday, Police told media that protestors had sprayed an ‘unknown substance’ into the faces of three officers. Media bought the line, jumping to the conclusion it was acid. Footage taken by people in the crowd now reveals it was instead ‘friendly-fire’, with a video showing an officer indiscriminately using pepper spray that blew back on his colleagues. However, both mainstream and social media widely reported that a protestor performed this harm. Worse still, the Prime Minister capitalised further and said she is not engaging with the protestors because of their behaviour.
Both Police and the Prime Minister should now apologise to the protestors for this deliberate defamation.
The area is currently the most surveilled part of New Zealand, and they would have known within an hour who sprayed who. There is simply no excuse for perpetuating misinformation. The Police stayed silent because the situation suited the government narrative.
3. Despite regular contact with Police daily via a dedicated communications channel, yesterday, the Police failed to mention that they would carry out somewhat of a spectacle on Lambton Quay by sending hundreds of officers running up and down the Capital’s streets. This was an area unconnected with the protestors, resulting in significant disruption to Wellingtonians, for a handful of additional concrete bollards.
4. On Tuesday, Police told media there was the potential for sexual assaults occurring on-site, without actual reports of any occurring or even alerting us. This showed they were more concerned with media headlines than public safety. The allegations were later retracted, but this was barely reported.
5. Requests by protesters for the Police to provide surveillance images of the offender who squirted faecal matter at the Police continue to be refused, leading protestors to be concerned he might still be on site and at risk of committing similar offences. The Police say their reason for not providing surveillance images of the offender is to protect the offender’s privacy.
6. Assertions that protestors’ actions have made harbour water unsafe for swimming were dismissed today, with Wellington Water confirming that harbour water quality was within normal range.
7. Police have claimed high-risk sex offenders are on-site. Given that these individuals are known to the Police and are permanently supervised by at least two officers, the Police are obliged to remove these known offenders as they breach their release conditions. But why waste another sensationalist headline?
This intentional, consistent dishonest pattern of behaviour by Police has left us shocked and disappointed.
We will not be manipulated.
The Police are more concerned with mounting a smear campaign against the protestors than honest policing.
It also suits both the Police and government for this misleading and deceptive conduct to remain on public record.
Now they have been comprehensively exposed, they should front up and tell the media to correct all the negative news coverage relating to the protestors.
Government PR is entirely out of touch, but the public is not fooled. One in three New Zealanders support the protestors and see the Government for the hypocrites they are. By refusing to meet with protestors because a tiny number cause problems – well outside the perimeter of the main protest site – and by condoning Police smearing protestors’ actions daily with false accusations, the Government is directly responsible for inciting anger and public resentment.
Is it time to call upon the Governor-General to intervene? This so-called PR battle is worsening by the day – not because of the protestors but because of Police. And let’s not pretend they are not doing this without instruction from the Prime Minister. Sorry, Jacinda, New Zealanders are not that naïve.
Wake up New Zealand, and stop falling mindlessly into the PR traps this Government leads you to daily. The Prime Minister’s PR team – the largest in our political history – is understood to have 200 communications staff.
It suits Government to focus on peripheral matters to deflect from the core protest demand: Remove all mandates NOW.
Media have slavishly repeated the Government’s key messages about the ‘appalling’ behaviour of protestors. Let’s now sit back and see if these deliberately malicious Police actions, undertaken at the Government’s bidding, attract the same label.
Winston Peters summed it up well this week:
“Small anti-establishment and disruptive groups have been given an open door to clash with law enforcement at every opportunity and have been inexcusably painted by the media as the face and nature of the entire protest. Those groups need to be dealt with swiftly and without sympathy, but equally we cannot allow those select few to be viewed as being typical of the thousands of other peaceful, law-abiding protesters who just want to be heard.
“Those soundbites and pictures of violence broadcast by media might help paint the narrative for the government – but are far from the truth. The vast majority are ordinary kiwis who are just fed-up. What the government fails to grasp is that this isn’t about the protesters at parliament – there are hundreds of thousands of kiwis who have had enough and the government ignores those kiwis at their peril.”
This communication summarises the agreed position of groups representing the majority people who have travelled and stayed at Parliament over the past two weeks:
Convoy 2022 NZ
New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science
Outdoors & Freedom Movement
The Freedom and Rights Coalition
Voices for Freedom