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59 Springbok Tour Archive No. 18 ...What I have put down is my own

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Springbok   Tour Archive No. 18


                ...What I have put down is my own view-point and I
only speak on behalf of myself.
    With regard to the Springbok Tour, the Department sent me to
various centres - Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Napier,
Rotorua, and Auckland (twice).    I have also witnessed several demon-
strations here in Christchurch and was present at the described
incidents at Linwood Rugby Club and at Lancaster Park.

                ...I have tried to keep an open mind on the whole tour.


THE 19 81 SPRINGBOK TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND.   (One Policeman's point of view)


    The first priority of a policeman is the protection of life and
property - then comes the maintaining of law and order.    This is
followed by the prevention and detection of crime and finally
we come to the apprehension of offenders against the Peace.     That is
the role of the Police in society, and should be borne in mind when
the Tour is discussed at a later date and the Police role is assessed.

    A survey made within the Police Department prior to the tour
showed that 100% of Police Staff were anti-apartheid and that 73% were
against the Springboks making the tour of New Zealand, for varying
reasons.    However, as Voltaire is purported to have quoted, "I
disagree entirely with what he says, but I will defend his lawful
right to say it."    So it is with the Police and the Springboks.
The majority of the Police thought it   morally wrong that the team
should have been invited and that the NZ Rugby Union was extremely
^elfish and dogmatic in issuing the invitation.

    But it is a fact that in world affairs, South Africa is classed

as being a 'friendly country' to New Zealand, and though their inter-

nal policies may be abhorrent to the people of this country, never-

theless the South Africans have not, by word or deed, committed
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any offensive act against the laws of New Zealand.
   Consequently, their right (the Springboks) to be in this country
as guests of the Rugby Union cannot be legally disputed, and as
long as they do not break the laws of the land, they have the same
rights, as any citizen of this country, to expect protection against
law-breakers.

    The police, by virtue of their office, are obliged to offer this
protection - no matter what we as individuals, may think of the
moral aspect of their being here.
    In the same way, we acknowledge the right of New Zealanders who
object to the tour taking place on the grounds of the apartheid
issue, to make their objections known - and being a democracy - they
have the right to show their objections by organising protest
marches, which brings us back to the quotation that we may disagree
with their views but will defend their LAWFUL right to express these
views.
    When the first protest marches were organised back in May 1981,
thousands of people around the country took part and no trouble was
experienced.    In my own case, the whole of my family marched in the
Christchurch one, as did many of my colleague's families.
    But when the Springbok Rugby Team arrived in the country, the
style of the protest marches and demonstrations drastically changed.
No longer were peaceful marches sufficient.    Despite the fact that
interested nations around the world were well aware that New Zea-
landers were evenly split on whether the Springboks should tour or
not, it appeared that the leaders of the Protest Groups; H.A.R.T.,
C.A.R.E., M.O.S.T. etc. were not going to be satisfied with their
efforts, were not prepared to accept the law of the land, and were
prepared to step outside the law to take the matter into their own
hands to stop the tour.    In other words, the Protesters were stipu-
lating the law was adequate when it suited t>eir purpose; but if they
disagreed in any way with what the law stated, then they were entitled
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to break it to enforce their wishes.    Their wishes of course was to
stop a party of law-abiding citizens from another country, here by
lawful invitation, from continuing their lawful pursuits.

   This dictum of course is completely unacceptable to any law-
abiding society - because to condone it would be to invite anarchy.
Any person who claimed that they morally disagreed with a law
could feel free to disregard it.    Mayhem would be the end result.
    From the start of the tour, the protest groups stated that it
was their intention to stretch the resources of the Police to
the limit, to show that we, as a peace-keeping force could not
ensure that the Springboks could play their games unhindered.     In
adopting that philosophy, the protesters were blatantly ignoring
the basic rights of the Springboks and the thousands of law-abiding
New Zealanders who wished nobody any harm and were only interested
in playing/watching the game of rugby.
    It was obvious that the Police Department was going to be caught
squarely in the middle of a very controversial situation - with
very emotive people both for and anti-tour ready to criticise us,
no matter what action we took.     From the outset too, it appeared
obvious from the Police position, that the majority of the news
media were sharpening their pencils and gathering like vultures,
as they sensed an extended news coverage of a very inflammable tour.
It was clear that the media were prepared to take allegations
made by protesters against the Police, at face value, and printed or
reported these allegations without endeavouring to establish whether
or not they were correct.   Throughout the tour it was very hurtful
from our point of view to see incidents that we were present at,
grossly distorted by the media in order to keep the story of the tour
alive.
    It was annoying, for instance, to read of the sensational style
reporting of the carrying of the long batons, when only a few months
earlier, the same media were endorsing the Police Association's
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request that these long batons be standard issue in the hope it
would helpt to curb the high rate of violence against the Police
where numerous staff were seriously injured.   Indeed, there was wide-
spread discussion and some people advocating that the Police be
issued with firearms as standard issue to combat the violence.

    It was upsetting to read page after page of details on how the
Police drew their batons in Molesworth Street, to stop several
hundred protesters from marching to the South African Consul's home
and how protesters heard from other people (but never saw it them-
selves) how brutal the Police were.   There was no checking into
the stories by the reporters on how the Police were kicked in the
testicles, punched in the face and spat on prior to the batons
being drawn.   It was more disappointing to see, a couple of days later,
a policewoman in Auckland being hit in the face by a crow-bar
thrown by a protester and her nose being broken as a result.     Had
the crow-bar been end-on, it could have pierced her skull.      That
story merited 4 lines on page 6 of the ChCh Press.

    From the start, the protesters maintained that they wanted to
stop the tour by peaceful means and that they had no wish to have
a confrontation with the Police.   But from the day the Springboks
arrived, protesters commenced to damage property - several
thousands of dollars worth - in their efforts to have their protest
heard.   When the Police intervened to stop their vandalism, we were
called 'Fascists' and 'Racists'.   The protesters ripped down
fences at the airports, chopped' down rugby posts around the country,
threw down debris on pitches, trespassed upon private premises,
splattered paint on buildings and people.   At Hamilton, a plane
was unlawfully taken, fences at the ground ripped down and the
game cancelled because of the unlawful act of several hundred people
who broke the law.   The Police were used to protect the people who
had invaded the pitch from the incensed spectators who had broken
no laws and who had paid to come and watch a game of
                                                                         63

football.   In Christchurch, windows were broken and fences ripped
down at Lancaster Park, even though the rugby was being played on
the North Island.
   As the tour proceeded, it became evident that the protesters
were being prepared to commit themselves to greater violence to have
games cancelled and the Police adopted the tactic of closing of
roads approaching the grounds when a match was being played.    There
was the fear that should the anti-tour people meet the pro-tour
people by the football ground on match day then real violence could
occur and that there conild be serious injury.   This was not accep-
table a.n^ protesters were told that they had to stay outside the well
set out Police lines to make their protests. Accusations have been
repeatedly levelled at the Police for over-reacting to stop protes-
ers from breaching these lines, but what we cannot understand is why
they wanted to force their way through in any case.    They had been
adequately warned to keep back and no trouble would have happened
at all if the protesters kept to their set march routes - or if that
was impossible for them to do, then to at least stop their march
when they were still 50 metres from the Police lines.    Had that hap-
pened then no-one would have been hurt, either Police or Protester.
It seemed incomprehensible to us in the Police lines why the Pro-
testers wished to pass through our lines, as to do so would have
meant they would have incited the thousands of rugby supporters and
the protesters would no doubt have been badly hurt.    No doubt this
may well have been the intention of some of the protesters who
wished to be martyrs to the cause - or else masochists! but as
stated, the main role of the Police is to protect life and property
and this is what we were trying to do.   Our secondary purpose, of
course was to allow the law-abiding people inside the ground to
enjoy their game of football without having it disrupted by the
law-breaking protesters.   It should be emphasized that the Police
were not making any aggressive move by doing this - but were operating
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within the law to try and defuse a serious problem, apart from trying
to stop a breach of the law taking place.    On every occasion through-
out the tour, it has been the protesters who have marched up to the
Police lines and brought about the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontations.
The Police were spat on, verbally abused and I have heard Maori
Policemen in the lines being called 'Nigger1 and 'Uncle Tom' and
'Coward' by the front line protesters who were trying to make the
Police react.    These people are the ones who are so adamant that they
hate apartheid I Extraordinary ... But after the news media had
'doctored' their reports it was always the Police in their helmets
and their long batons who were the villains of the piece.

    Prior to the first test in Christchurch, leaflets were widely
distributed describing how to make petrol bombs etc.     Threats were
made to Police that some of us would end up in hospital on the day
of the Test.     (I know - because I received a telephone call to this
effect - anonymously of course)     The night prior to the Test following
a stupid announcement over the television that the Springboks were
sleeping at Linwood Rugby Club (and why would the media give out
this information except in the hope it would incite the anti-tour
people to hold a demonstration at the club-rooms so that it could
be captured on camera - which it was) there was a demonstration in
the early hours of the morning in the streets around the Linwood
Club-rooms.     Hundreds of protesters marched round shouting, singing
and banging tin lids - disrupting the sleep of all the people who
lived in the neighbourhood and who probably had nothing to do with
rugby at all.    At one stage a lady from one house asked the demon-
strators to move away as she had a very sick husband at home, but
she was just abused and jeered at.

    After the test, the protesters came back again in the early hours
to do the same thing again and also this time to throw eggs and
paint bombs at the police lines.     This sort of thing hardly rated
a mention in the papers.     During the Test itself, hundreds of pro-
                                                                          65

testers   disregarded the conditions set down for the march and
stormed the Police lines set up around Lancaster Park.    To do this,
they ripped down fences, trespassed on Railway Property, and assault-
ed Police.    I myself was struck on the head by a pole which was one of
many wielded by the crowds of demonstrators pressed all around the
Police line.   It was only my helmet, which was badly dented,which
saved my head from being split open.    The policeman next to me was
struck in the face by the same pole and his chin was gashed open.
A policewoman close by was struck on the body by a large piece of
concrete.    I was there and I personally saw these things happen.
But on reading the paper reports later and seeing the television
news items, no mention was made of these attacks - only of the police
with batons in their hands.

    And so it has been throught the tour.     The Police have been
made out to be the 'baddies' who are the lackeys of the government
and who are savage thugs.     Instead we are just 'bobbies' who are
doing the job we are paid for by the people of New Zealand to try
and keep a lid on everything.    We are, after all, just human beings,
husbands and fathers, who want a quiet life, and instead are working
all sorts of ridiculous hours, and being shunted all around the
country to keep the peace, and to be kicked, spat on, thrown at,
struck at, and abused by people who think themselves 'decent' who
say they hate apartheid.    What has the Police Service, who by and
large agree with their views, done to deserve all this abuse?

    It's a sad sick country we live in right now, and it seems
evident that the protesters have completely lost sight of the original
reasons for the protests.     To them it has now become a 'war-game'
against the established society and they are doing their best to
disrupt it.    How else can one explain why Protesters, on Sept. 8th in
ChCh, with the Springboks hundreds of miles away, throw paint-bombs
and spray paint at police - in their faces and on their uniforms -
and when arrested to cause $2500 worth of damage to ChCh Police Station ?
                                                                   66

We in the Police just hope that the normal law-abiding Kiwi rea-
lises what is happening and that they are not taken in by every-
thing they read.

                    OH NEW ZEALAND - "QUO VADIS?"

								
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