Today, the Weapons Expo begins in Palmerston North, and the peace movement is particularly concerned that the police plan to protect these war profiteers with 180 officers and a security budget of $250,000.
They have fortified the Central Energy Trust in Palmerston North with blacked-out fences and barbed wire.
Last year, police caused injuries to dozens of peaceful protestors at the event in Wellington. It is outrageous that they are sending in a small army to act as private security guards to protect war profiteers from peace activists.
Over the past three years, we’ve seen a ramping up of Police resources at non-violent protests. In 2015, the Police spent about $20,000 at the Wellington Weapons Expo. By 2017, that amount had ballooned to 112,000 and officers brought in from around the country. Now its two and half times that. These are astronomical figures, and obscene in the context of peaceful protests.
In 2015, the Police arrested some 27 people at the Weapons Expo only for the court to subsequently throw all the charges out, and award costs against the Police for illegal arrests.
The Police are continually crying out for more resources, yet they have prioritised providing security services for these arms dealers. It illustrates that the Police are on the side of protecting big business against ordinary people.
The Police need to call off this operation, and direct their resources to useful community building instead of assaulting and brutalising people who are standing up against war and war profiteering.