Skip to comments.Protesters try to storm US embassy in New Zealand
Posted on 02/02/2003 5:09:51 AM PST by knighthawk
WELLINGTON: Anti-war protesters tried to storm the US embassy in New Zealand's capital during a rally on Sunday against a possible American-led war in Iraq, police and demonstrators said.
Protesters carrying ladders and mock metal detectors tried to climb over a 2-metre (6-foot) iron gate in front of the embassy compound in Wellington, saying they wanted to check the premises for "weapons of mass destruction owned and operated by the United States." But police who were guarding the embassy hauled them down and arrested 23 demonstrators.
"Those protesters who broke the law ... were charged with ... disorder, assault and resisting police," said police Inspector Marty Grenfell. Demonstrators and police briefly scuffled when the protesters tried to scale the gate, but the 250-strong rally was largely peaceful.
Protest organiser John Sarvis said he was disappointed by the firm reaction of police.
"There might be rogue nations in the world, but there is only one rogue superpower," Sarvis said in a statement. "The United States has the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction," he added. Washington accuses Iraq of failing to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.
These ignorant ba$tar$d$ had no clue how close they came to busting hell wide open.
Dissappointed by the "firm" police reaction were they?
Someone needs to call in the New Zealand ambassador and review U.S. embassy security and use of force doctrines.
In light of our ambassadors dropping dead like flies all over the world, our U.S.M.C. embassy guards "firm" use of force will be somewhat different than these pukes could ever imagine.
You mean that he expected the police to allow them to storm our embassy?
What a dolt.
He misses the Soviet Union.
No disputing that. But the people of New Zealand should thankful for that. Consider who has the second and third largest arsenals of WMD. Something tells me won't be seeing these protesters moving on to the Chinese and Russian embassies.
|S T U F F S T O R Y|
Police and protesters were nursing abrasions and other minor injuries after the confrontation outside the embassy's compound in Thorndon.
Though several protesters said that at least one elderly man suffered a bleeding head, no one is known to have sought medical attention.
Protesters were arrested for offences including disorder, assault and resisting police. They will appear in Wellington District Court this week. Many said they would plead not guilty and would lay complaints against the police.
Others among the group of about 250 protesters accused police of heavy-handedness, and blamed police for turning the protest into an ugly pushing and shoving match in which people were wrestled to the ground.
Police inspector Marty Grenfell "absolutely" rejected claims police had acted inappropriately, saying the protesters had determined the level of violence.
Protest leaders had made it clear before arriving at the embassy from Parliament that they intended trying to breach security by scaling the embassy fence and had brought ladders and knotted sheets to do so.
They had then forcibly tried to break through the line police had formed to prevent them trying to scale the fence, he said.
Most arrests happened shortly after, when protesters blocked the street and prevented a police van from leaving carrying those already arrested.
Police were disappointed and surprised "at the level of violence of the group", but believed they had responded professionally at all times, Mr Grenfell said.
The protest was under the banner "New Zealand Citizen Weapon Inspection Team" which no one claimed to be leading, in an attempt to distance the event from regular peace action groups.
Some protesters were dressed in decontamination-type boiler suits, while others carried metal detectors and magnifying glasses.
Peace activist Simon Fjnord said the protest aimed to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the United States' desire for war on Iraq. Protesters sought to search the embassy for weapons and some had been "prepared to take that chance (of arrest) to highlight the gravity of the issue".
Arrested protester Arthur Price, who planned to lay a complaint, said he had simply tried to run to the fence and shouldn't have been arrested.
Anthony West said he was arrested after trying to warn the van driver not to move because he would run over protesters sitting behind the vehicle.
"They were very aggressive, they told me to roll over, but they had their knee in my back".
One woman said she saw people being kicked.
An American Embassy spokeswoman said any suggestions weapons were being kept at the embassy were ridiculous.
"Although we understand there may be people who do not agree with the US Government policy, we believe that in a democracy such differences of opinion should be handled in an appropriate legal manner.
"Illegal trespass does not in any way aid the communication of such opinions."
Prime Minister Helen Clark, who has already said she believes most New Zealanders have reservations about a war with Iraq, said people had the right to protest peacefully but if they "go too far and break the law they should expect a response".
ACT NZ leader Richard Prebble described protesters as childish. If they had held a similar protest in Iraq "the lucky ones would be dead and the unlucky ones would still be being tortured."
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** Note: The police officers should have applied what is known as a "wrist drag" hold on the protester that is standing. The protester would have been brought to the ground with minimal effort on the part of the officer.
North Korea or Cuba would welcome him in, no doubt.
,,, a lot less than half a lifetime ago Helen would have been in their ranks.
On what planet?
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