Trade unionists arrested after peaceful occupation of bank...
Police attacked an anti-war march in Auckland today, arresting four peaceful protesters and injuring several more. The march had been jointly organised by Workers Against the War of Terror and Global Peace and Justice Auckland, and was part of a global day of action against the occupation of Iraq.
Earlier, three hundred protesters had gathered outside the United States consulate, where they burnt the Stars and Stripes and heard news of the anti-war strike being held by dockworkers in San Francisco.
After heading up Queen Street the marchers launched a peaceful occupation of the offices of the ANZ bank. A sound system was brought into the bank, and protesters and ANZ staff heard speeches which described the bank's role in the carve-up of the Iraqi economy by multinational companies based in the West, a plunder which has brought economic chaos and 70% unemployment to Iraq. A message of solidarity from the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unemployed of Iraq was read, and an Iranian woman spoke about her opposition to US threats against her country.
After leaving the ANZ, the protesters were regrouping in Queen St when a man drove his ute into their ranks at some speed, knocking several people out of the way before being stopped. The police used this incident as an excuse to launch an attack upon protesters. Without warning, marchers were set upon, and pushed and shoved onto the footpath. When a leader of the protest used the sound system to assert his right to march on the street police arrested him, prompting anger from his comrades and a series of scuffles that lasted half an hour.
The confrontation spilled onto Victoria St West, as the police tried to arrest more marchers. The crowd chanted 'Police brutality!' and 'Go home copper' as the police threw wild punches and tried to arrest random protesters and even passers by. A number of protesters were freed from police clutches by their comrades, but four ended up in the cells at Auckland Central station, where they were charged with obstruction and assault.
Refusing to disperse, protesters headed back down to the US Consulate, where a series of speakers used an open microphone to denounce the actions of the police. Dave Brown, a spokesman for Workers Against the War of Terror, pointed out the connection between the ANZ occupation and the police attack, noting that 'As soon as we violate the sanctity of capitalist property in any way, the cops act'.
Speakers from Australia and Scotland recalled similar police actions against anti-war demonstrations in their own countries, and emphasised that the anti-war movement was also a movement in defence of democratic liberties threatened by 'anti-terrorist' legislation and the equation of left-wing protest with terrorism.
Another marcher pointed out that at least two of the arrested demonstrators were trade union activists. It is no accident that the trade unions of Iraq are the target of US repression, and that the dockworkers of San Francisco
Everyone disgusted by today's attack on peaceful protesters should attend the next meeting of Workers Against the War of Terror, which will be held at 2pm, on the second of April, at Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road. (For more details e mail davebrownz (at) yahoo.com)
Role of Police Violence
Police violence used against those protesting the war in Iraq in Auckland on March 19 was deliberate. It was the response to the success of the protest in entering the ANZ and exposing the truth that this bank profits from the blood shed in two years of imperialist war and occupation of Iraq. As the truth about the link between profits and imperialist war becomes known, we can expect the system to resort to increasing violence.
The actions of the police in Auckland on March 19 cannot be explained by protestors being on the street or footpath, or for that matter standing in the intersection. Many protests in the past have done much more than this and passed without serious incident.
We should see the police actions as deliberate rather than the knee jerk response of some over-excited cops relieved not to be handing out tickets to motorists.
They had half and hour to plan their response to what was the really serious threat to the bosses' profit system, the fact that the protestors took over the ground floor of the bank where the full facts of the ANZ rotten profiteering in Iraq was exposed, to the workers the public and the media, and yet left when asked by the police without any arrests.
The decision by the police to respond aggressively from that point on was because they had been found wanting, and had not been able to protect the sacrosanct private property rights of the ANZ, one of the four Aussie banks that run NZ's finance system and profit to the extent of billions a year paying less than 10% tax.
The protest movement had effectively targeted and exposed the fundamental immorality of capitalist profit - that John Howard backed George Bush in sending troops to invade Iraq to recolonise the oil wealth of Iraq, killing over 100,000 and still killing every day, to profit from this plunder. Now Howard and his Aussie capitalist backers are shown up in the full glare of the protestors truth, to be getting their payback, their share in the plunder of imperialist war
The cops did what they get paid for. Try to shut down the protestors from exposing the truth that the ANZ is pocketing part of the blood money of the Iraq war. The way to do this most effectively is to provoke the organisers, pick them off as violently as possible so as to make the rest of us angry and disrupt the protest. This was intended to intimidate the protest movement and close down the exposure of the profit system.
They failed to shut us up or to intimidate us. We were not intimidated. Not only did most of the protestors surround the cops in the attempt to prevent the arrests, those who physically tried to.
In the Court actions CWG will also be saying that this is what the police are paid to do when the property of the ruling class, and the link between profits and war, are publicly revealed. The conclusion we draw is that the more we expose the rotten profit warmongering system, the more violent will be the repression.
Therefore, the working class needs to prepare to defend itself, avoid unnecessary confrontations with the cops, and organise workers to strike against all those corporations that are shown to be profiting from war.
From Class Struggle 60 March-April 2005