Capitalist state just doing its job

The sordid actions of police informant Rob Gilchrist infiltrating New Zealand activist groups is yet another case of the bourgeois state ‘just doing its job’. In this blog post John Moore argues that the left should strongly condemn the police for their actions, yet those that act with howls of surprise and shock show how little understanding they have of the relationship between the state and capitalism in New Zealand. The left needs to start organizing more seriously against the coercive powers of the capitalist state, but at the same time exercising caution rather than paranoia.

Police spy Rob Gilchrist

The actions of Rob Gilchrist and the police reveal the ugly face of the capitalist state.

So far we know that Gilchrist has acted as a spy for the police for 10 years. He has informed and gathered information on organisations including Greenpeace, anti-Iraq War groups, poverty and beneficiary rights groups, animal welfare groups, GE-free groups and the Workers Party (formerly the Anti-Capitalist Alliance). balaclavaThe use of Gilchrist as a police spy was not an anomaly, but part of wider police intelligence programme. According to the Sunday Star Times

The use of an informer was part of a much wider police intelligence effort targeting community groups, using surveillance, filming of protests and seizure of computers and papers following protest arrests.

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Violent crime in capitalist New Zealand

– Byron Clark, Workers Party candidate for Christchurch Central

Crime has become a hot issue in New Zealand this year. It’s an election issue largely because the major political parties are committed to maintaining the status quo on economic issues; instead they campaign on non-economic issues like “law and order” rather than wages, unemployment or social inequality.1

The government and the opposition’s “tough on crime” stance also results in increased state power and erosions of civil liberties. Politicians have been calling for the police to be armed and patrolling working-class parts of Auckland. We’ve also seen the passage of the Criminal Disclosure Act, which removes the need for a unanimous jury verdicts (replacing it with an 11:1 majority) and creates exemptions to double jeopardy (the legal defence that prevents a person from being tried twice for the same crime on the same set of facts).

These things are certainly something to be concerned about, but it doesn’t mean crime itself should be ignored. While on the whole crime is down, the statistics show that violent crime (with the exception of homicide) is up. A large part of this increase (35%) is in the “threats and intimidation” category, and is probably a result of increased reporting now that more people own cellphones. Increased reporting of domestic violence as a result of the “It’s not OK” campaign is also a possible factor in the increase.

However, it is undeniable that violent crime is occurring, and the reasons for – and possible solutions to – this should be examined.

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No justice for victims of police brutality

– Alastair Reith

On June 25th, a white jury in Tauranga found Police Sergeant Keith Parsons, Senior Constable Bruce Laing, Constable John Mills and Sergeant Erle Busby not guilty of brutally assaulting Rawiri Falwasser, a young Maori, in October 2006.

With police like these, who needs criminals?

Rewi Falwasser suffered a mental breakdown on Labour Day 2006, and was not in control of his own actions. This is accepted by the police. He was arrested after stealing a neighbours car and driving erratically, endangering both himself and other people on the road.

The police took him to Whakatane police station, and put him in a holding cell. When they later came to remove him from the cell and take him to be photographed, he refused to leave the cell. According to Crown Prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch, Mr Falwasser was “stressed, confused and agitated”.

Following Falwasser’s refusal to leave the cell, Sergeant Parsons repeatedly sprayed him in the face with pepper-spray, and when he put up his hands to protect himself from this attack Parsons lashed out at his head with a baton, striking him on the hand and the wrist and leaving him with a 6½-centimetre cut to his arm.

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Armed cops no solution

– Alastair Reith

The recent series of killings in South Auckland has led to a frenzy of  politician’s calls to “get tough on crime”, and for increased powers for the police and the state in general. While such “law and order” orgies come and go, there are some disturbing concrete proposals emerging from this one, in particular the call to put armed cops on the streets of Auckland 24/7.

The police are recommending a six-month trial period; if the idea is approved by Police Commissioner Howard Broad, the armed patrols could be on the streets of Auckland by March next year.

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Another brick in the wall: cops in schools

Don Franks

Police officers are being stationed inside ten South Auckland schools.

From March, five officers will each spend 30 hours a week in the secondary schools, and another five staff will join them later.

Manukau City Councilor Daniel Newman says the aim is to cut crime outside of school, to draw children away from gangs, and to gather information on suspects.

Minister of Police Annette King claims the project will help young people regain confidence in the police. The Minister has yet to win the confidence of the professionals currently responsible for those young people.

Auckland Post Primary Principals’ Association regional chair Gerald van Waardenberg teaches at Otahuhu college, one of the schools which will have a police officer. He said there has been no consultation, and was surprised at the news.

“It’s in no way clear what kind of a role the police will have within the school, whether they’ll be approaching students directly, what the police will actually be doing.”

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