Report on Black and Indigenous Lives Matter: Ferguson protests Wellington

Black Lives Matter protest Wellington

Black Lives Matter protest Wellington

In Wellington at the symbolic time of 12:01pm a protest march was held in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, USA.

A collection of between 50-60 (mostly high-school students) gathered to show their support and outrage at the ongoing police violence in the US.

A number of people got up to speak before the march on what had happened and what was ongoing in the US. A number of speakers noted the importance of dealing with police violence and structural racism in the justice system, drawing out the problems of a prison system where around 50% or the male prison population and 60% of the female prison population are Maori, with Maori being 6-7 times more likely to be convicted of a crime as a Pakeha also charged with the same offence.

The group marched towards the US embassy. Police in attendance forcibly moved the marchers off the street and into the crowded sidewalks, claiming that there was no ‘approved traffic management plan’. Organizers had attempted to organize this in advance but had been told they needed to provide 6-8 weeks notice beforehand. What this was in effect was the authorities trying to bully the young organizers from asserting their legal right to march. The behaviour of the police extended beyond that “the cops were at the back of the march making whip cracking noises and making jokes about being slave drivers, it was gross and totally not cool on a march against racism and police violence” said march attendee Chase Fox.

Once the march had reached the US Embassy a four and a half minute ‘die-in’ was staged in memory of all those who have died due to police violence. A number of people spoke. Mentioning that the Ferguson police force, which was overwhelmingly white already, has had most of their non-white officers quit. As well as the need for those involved to learn our own history of police brutality in Aotearoa, referencing the murder of Stephen Wallace, the Dawn Raids in the 70’s and the invasion of Rua Kenena’s community at Maungapohatu in 1916.

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