When the police perpetuate injustice

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In recent weeks the police were at hand to serve the interests of capital rather than the interests of justice, exhibiting class betrayal and undermining the legitimacy of the police force, and the state.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the police are deployed against the working class and social activists, because after all they are the ‘repressive state apparatus’, and the state acts in the interests of capital. But heavy-handed actions to break strikes at the KFC fast food ‘restaurant’ (misnomer), and to disrupt the Dunedin Minerals Forum blockade, are wrong on many counts.

Since when was it considered necessary, appropriate or proportionate for police carrying tasers and Glock pistols to defend an international fast food chain’s ‘right to operate’, against picketing workers? KFC itself should be more correctly seen as an enemy of the people, with the way it screws down worker’s conditions – trying to force more unpaid overtime on worse terms, let alone the public health impacts of all that fat-infused unhealthy food, and the mistreatment of chickens. Each part of the KFC fast food process should be treated as a crime, – the extraction of millions of dollars of profit offshore, pumping out grossly fat food to already deprived communities, treating workers like worthless wage slaves, all based on the mistreatment of animals to the worst degree.
At the same time, police action has been threatened to remove iwi protestors at sacred land in South Auckland’s Ihūmatao, where Fletcher Building have been given a fast-tracked green light to build nearly 500 homes. (In itself an injustice).

Elsewhere in the system, at least several hundred prisoners are locked up at any one time, for victimless marijuana related crimes, leading to inhumane prison overcrowding, alienation from society, the removal of citizenship rights to vote, consigning people on the scrap heap (especially disproportionately high numbers of young Maori and Pasifika men), while at the same time efforts are made to legitimise pharmaceutical control of the medicinal marijuana industry. Justice would look, in this case, like releasing anyone locked up for cannabis related offences if corporates are allowed to deal.

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Then this week, we saw the police and firefighters deployed to facilitate mineral company executives’ access to the Minerals Forum in Dunedin, against the efforts of anti-climate change activists, concerned about the future of the planet. Some protestors were injured, and condemned police brutality and heavy-handed tactics. The police in turn said they “respect people’s right to lawful protest, and that (our) focus is around ensuring a peaceful protest and responding appropriately to any potential issues regarding disorder, criminal activity, or public safety.” The three people arrested for breach of the peace were released shortly afterwards, without charges being laid. The police said the protest was largely peaceful, and they were unaware of the allegations of heavy-handedness. But if it was a peaceful event, with no damage to property, no criminal activity or significant disorder – what good and valid role did the police have, in trying to thwart the blockade? Except to defend an indefensible industry that should be facing its own regulatory restrictions, and maybe charges of ecocide!

In many of the above instances, the protestors and activists are upholding higher public causes, worker’s rights, environmental sanctity, heritage values and personal freedoms, benefitting the wider social good, and causing no harm. Invoking police response to defend the rights of corporates puts the police in the line of false duty, duty that has no moral basis, and undermines the more constructive work they are capable of, rebuilding communities and keeping society safe from real threats like violence and insecurity.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Fucking awesome Post @ CR. I mean, really.
    And what does it all mean?
    It means many terrible things. One of the more terrible things it means is that it means that those whom have the money….rule. That’s what it means.
    It doesn’t matter that one may be a psychopathic narcissist or a sociopathic egotist… If you have the money, you rule. And to that I say; God help us all. And by ‘all’ I mean every wee beastie, every plant and microbe, every waterfall and mountain top. All of you? You must quiver in fucking fear.

  2. Because of recent events in NZ the Police will be seen routinely carrying firearms, as Police do in virtually every country in the world. Get used to it and stop sniveling!

    • Christine’s not claiming the carrying of firearms in itself is objectionable, but that Police are present at legitimate industrial action events, and that donning firearms in these cases, to any sane person, is excessive.
      Perhaps you could read all that she’s written, rather than taking to your keyboard at the first statement that provokes your ire.

      • No Brigid, I think it was the fifth or sixth statement that Gary responded to – depending upon how he parsed the first three paragraphs.

        (Sniveling is a yucky little word tho’ – it conjures up pictures of little boys with runny noses on winter mornings when it’s not the poor wee chap’s fault that winter came or that his nose ran.)

  3. As the pressure for change starts to build, I think we will see the police acting more often in their role as protectors of property rights. We must remember that “a policeman’s baton is a weapon with a worker at both ends”.
    It’s hard to remember that when they are dragging you along the ground (I was arrested at the blockade of the Minerals Conference) but cops have kids and grandkids too and they want a liveable planet for the future.
    We need to help them break their conditioning, we need them on our side!

    • Jen – Property is a white middle class obsession. If climate change continues on its present trajectory, I think we will quite likely see the police acting more to protect us from each other.

  4. Gary you are still running around in circles chasing your own tail and barking at your own reflection.

    Brigid is absolutely correct. Why should the police carry firearms to instances of legitimate industrial action. It is objectionable in this country.

    You are entitled to an opinion but you never express one. All you do is attack people you don’t agree with. I think you should get use to the fact that other people do have opinions that might not align with yours. So you should stop sniveling and get used to it.

    • Youngsuffrajet – I did what you and other offended people here should have done, and I went down and asked a police officer why they were armed.

      Answer: Because they have been on high alert since the mosque murders.

      I don’t know how high, but they are not armed to shoot paranoid protesters – they are armed to protect the public. Like you and me.

      Not all are armed, but some are armed now where there are crowds or public gatherings, including sports fixtures, concerts – and I daresay opera and ballet – who knows at what level murderers, and terrorists, and white supremacists, and martyrs seeking suicide-by-cop shoot-out, function ?

      You may find it objectionable having armed police, but it is not to give snivelers something to snivel about, or an opportunity for the usual suspects to cry police brutality, it is to protect the public.

      If you find it objectionable then how about saying why it is objectionable ? Reasons ?

      This could be the way things are now, so get used to it.

  5. Christine, I think you are making one or two assumptions here that aren’t necessarily warranted.

    “In recent weeks the police were at hand to serve the interests of capital rather than the interests of justice, exhibiting class betrayal and undermining the legitimacy of the police force, and the state.”

    The police’s job is to ensure the law is carried out, not to determine or ‘serve the issues of justice.’ That is the job of the Parliament which passes legislation, and the legal system, which processes or punishes accordingly.

    Parliament can, and does get it wrong, but the police in NZ don’t have legislative power, and just like the rest of us, they have to obey the law, just or unjust.

    If the police were to start choosing which laws they consider do not serve the interests of justice, that in fact is what would undermine the legitimacy of the police force, and of the state, and threaten the stability of the state. We have a separation of powers, and that’s that.

    I don’t see how their presence at the Minerals Conference was some sort of class betrayal, or what class was betrayed.

    I would have thought the Green movement was fairly classless; the Greens I know are blue collar or middle class professional – and one or two of the latter I regard as ‘pretend Greens’ – Green supporters because their switched-on offspring are, but turning their noses up at me for doing things like catching a bus rather than make a single use car trip.

    But policing at demonstrations is the cops’ job. If they refused to go, they probably wouldn’t have jobs any more. Events like Prince William’s
    recent ChCh trip, and Harry and Meghan Markle’s so-called royal tour, also tie up massive resources that could be better used elsewhere.

    I think it’s a bit rich condemning the police for serving the interests of capital, after nine years of a National govt which has done precisely that, and when it is unclear how different the present govt may be.

    The things you raise are all issues emanating from govt policy. If some top cop made a personal decision to block protestors, then this should be ascertained, and the reason why ascertained – it could be as simple as the conference attendees having a right of entry, but it’s a legitimate question.

    “But if it was a peaceful event, with no damage to property, no criminal activity or significant disorder – what good and valid role did the police have, in trying to thwart the blockade?” Well, Christine, had the police not been present, who’s to know whether or not a different scenario could have played out ?

    Dissecting KFC’s role in nutritional health and sheeting that onto the police too, is sophism and irrelevant – a totally separate issue.

    Anyone can make a complaint about the police, or to the police. I have, and did so reasonably aware of the processes which it would trigger, and my only comment here would be the same as to anyone visiting WINZ – have a ‘support’ person present – even if it’s someone who speaks English as a second or third language; it can be daunting. Of course they stuff up sometimes, but I suggest that govt stuff-ups are infinitely worse.

    Maybe 10 years ago when NZ cops were quitting NZ for better pay and conditions in Australia, a local police officer told me the reason he wouldn’t was Australia and water – Australia was likely to be facing specific massive climate change issues, and NZ was a better place to be.

    They’re regularly bewailed as dumb cops – but apparently expected now to be over-ruling govt policy and the law. And on second thoughts, that mightn’t be such a bad idea either, but no can do.

    There would be a reason the police were armed at recent demonstrations, but I don’t know it – if I see a cop I’ll ask her – maybe annoy her too. I glared at them all on principle after the Lower Hutt Drink Driving testing of seniors having a Sunday afternoon Euthanasia Society meeting; I feel a little mean about that now as some fledgling young officer down our local mall looked slightly startled.

    We achieve nothing by blaming Tom, Dick or Harry for John Philip’s decisions, but do need to keep asking and asking the right people.

    • Good points, Snow White. Although of course the police do exercise discretion about their policing methods and priorities now. To think that the police objectively apply the law as it’s writ, without bias or favour, is unrealistic. I think also it’s entirely consistent to judge the police serving the interests of capital given National’s last nine years, because it strongly looks like those interests prevail. I wouldn’t expect the police, (as arm of the capitalist state) to act any differently, nor Labour, given the power of capitalism… it is a capitalist system after all.

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