Full text of Press Release of Combined Parliament Protest Group, 22 February 2022.
- Protesters concerned about Police inaction over offenders
- External Parties causing tensions
The Wellington protest group is shocked by the alleged violent and antisocial behaviour exhibited during the past 48 hours by a number of individuals who do not appear to be associated with the protest.
Throughout, we have continually sought to work with Police to identify individuals involved in any criminal acts and maintain a safe and peaceful environment. We are ever-mindful that approximately 15 percent of protestors present are either children or aged over 60, and 55 percent are women.
However, significant concern has arisen during the past 48 hours over a notable lack of action by Police against identified individuals committing offences outside the protest area.
Emerging evidence of potential external involvement in placing these agitators among the protest is even more worrying.
The individual who sprayed faecal matter at Police on Monday morning was unknown to protestors. He intentionally hid behind a protestor as he sprayed the police, wore a ski mask and fled immediately. Protest organisers have asked Police for pictures from surveillance footage to help us ascertain if the person is still amongst the protest. Police denied the request.
We are now worried he may have returned to the site to perpetrate further violent acts.
Video and photographic evidence (see Clashes erupt at Parliament Protest, accusations of ‘paid police agitators’ – Daily Telegraph NZ ) has emerged that agitators use earpieces identical to that used by Police. An individual letting off loud fireworks to the rear of the protest on Tuesday morning, making a sound similar to gunshots that naturally increased tension, was immediately stopped by other protestors, and he was handed over to Police. Footage of this person is widely available on social media.
It is not surprising that many of those at the protest site are now suspicious that a deliberate and coordinated action by external parties is being waged to escalate tensions and smear the protestors.
Given the enormous numbers of Police and blanket surveillance of the area, we’ve been advised they are tracking specific trouble-makers but not acting. We can only perceive their protracted inaction is at the bidding of the Government’s PR machine. Meanwhile, anywhere up to 10,000 people per day peacefully visit Parliament grounds to protest these mandates.
The person who allegedly sprayed a mystery substance into the eyes of three Police officers today was also a person unknown to any of the protestors present. He was wearing a face-covering similar to a ski mask.
The vehicle rolled into the back of officers was outside of the protest site (as were the other events) and in an area in which Police have jurisdiction. No one was hurt.
The leaders of the combined groups that comprise the majority of the protestors condemn any acts of violence and request that Police do more to work with them in removing known perpetrators. We also believe that subversive actions of people posing as protestors is an underhand and dishonest tactic that doesn’t fit with New Zealand values.
It has not been helpful today that Police raised with media the possibility for sexual assaults before communicating that to us and before anything of the nature had occurred at the site. This is despite a legal representative having daily and sometimes hourly contact with Police on our behalf for this express purpose.
We are increasingly of the view that Police are playing PR games – taking a leaf out of the Prime Minister’s book. It’s not drawing too long a bow to observe that it would suit the interests of both Police and Government for the trouble-makers to cause problems for media to report widely upon.
We urge politicians to reflect on a professional survey that revealed the majority of protestors are the exact opposite of “ferals”, far-right extremists and “a river of filth”. Of the 312 people researchers spoke to on-site over the weekend, 27 percent are Maori, and 45 percent voted Labour or Greens at the last election. See: RESEARCH: Parliamentary Protest Poll Results Feb 2022 | The Platform
Speaking on behalf of the majority of the groups represented on-site, we are unanimous in our commitment to maintaining a peaceful protest that does not support any violence.
Today, we have passed on our sympathies via official Police channels to the officers injured during the past few days.
*** End of Press Release***