8 Dec 2012

Anti-TPP protest turns violent in Auckland

9:59 pm on 8 December 2012

A protest in downtown Auckland on Saturday turned violent as police were ounumbered by protesters seeking to disrupt Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks at the SkyCity casino.

Police say violence broke out when protesters tried to force their way into the building at about 3pm.

A police spokesperson, Kerry Watson, says a fire was started in the middle of the street by protesters, who tried to feed the flames with cardboard boxes, and officers were attacked as they helped clear a path for the Fire Service.

"At that stage one of our staff was pulled out and was kicked numerous times by the protesters," Mr Watson says. "It's early days but I understand that the constable is not injured but is very lucky."

Police say two people were arrested, one of them a female who had stomped on the constable's head.

The rest of the protesters then moved off to Aotea Square.

Stupid policing, says Minto

One of the protesters, John Minto of Global Peace and Justice Auckland, says the policing of the protest was "provocative and plain stupid".

Mr Minto says the protesters were preparing to leave SkyCity when the most senior police officer present intervened to stop the symbolic act of burning a number of cardboard petition boxes.

"With tensions running high after the refusal of TPP organisers to accept the 750,000 international petition against the negotiations, the police action added insult to injury," Mr Minto says.

"It was unnecessary, highly provocative and it was inevitable a scuffle would break out with several people injured."

Mr Minto says the same officer "repeated the stupidity" with the provocative arrest of a young woman in Aotea Square a short time later.

About 500 officials from 11 participating countries launched the 15th round of TPP talks on Monday.