Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Condi Rice takes to her heels in Auckland
There was chanting, speeches and an impressive US flag burning outside Government House where Rice was meeting with prime minister Helen Clark and foreign affairs minister Winston Peters. The speeches focused on Rice's support for the illegal and immoral war in Iraq, as well as the wider and more nonsensical 'War on Terror'; her sanctioning of torture and instrumental role in setting up Guantanamo Bay; and on what a bad idea a free trade agreement with the US would be. Then the crowd relocated to the Langham Hotel, where Rice met with leader of the parliamentary opposition, John Key.
Auckland University Students Association had to withdraw the bounty it placed on the head of Condoleezza Rice two days earlier, under threat of legal action. However, the students association at Victoria University in Wellington doubled the price, offering $10,000 for a successful citizen's arrest. Although several people turned up to the demo with handcuffs, the chance to nab Rice didn't present itself. Police refused to cooperate in the arrest of this war criminal, giving the irrelevant excuse that she is a visiting dignitary.
Police had planned to limit protest at the Langham hotel by keeping protesters on the opposite side of the road, behind shiny new barricades that had obviously been bought specially for the occasion. What they hadn't planned for was a busload of protesters being dropped off at the bus stop outside the hotel. After fifteen minutes of chanting and yelling by protestors, the police claimed that standing on the public footpath outside the hotel, was a 'safety risk.' When protesters refused to leave, the police violently forced them off the sidewalk and out onto the road. Protesters were shoved, punched and thrown to the street and pain compliance holds used on several protesters to get them to move. Several were punched in the face, including veteran activist John Minto who was shoved to the ground by several officers, smashing and breaking the megaphone he was chanting through. Two protesters were arrested and one man was left bleeding from the neck and wrist.