My name is Katie and I head up the Legal Team at Voices For Freedom.
This is an important update about the protest in Wellington over February – March 2022 (Freedom Protest) to let you know there is an opportunity for your voice to be heard.
This is what I will cover here:
- An update on all the people we’ve helped and supported at the Freedom Protest
- An explanation about the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), the body making inquiries into Police involvement at the Freedom Protest.
- How you can make a complaint about the Police during the Freedom Protest
- How you can submit photos or videos or any other recordings you took during the Freedom Protest
- How to provide any other information about the Freedom Protest that you may consider relevant.
1. SUPPORT WE OFFERED TO THOSE ARRESTED AT THE FREEDOM PROTEST…
The Freedom Protest saw people of all walks of life coming together. There were mums and dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters. There were people that had lost their jobs, lost connection with friends and family due to the divisive nature of the last two years. Most importantly, there were people there in memory of people they had lost and so many of you who have suffered injuries.
So many people that reached out to us both during and after the Freedom Protest had the same story about how this was:
- the first time they’d ever been to a protest;
- the first time in the last two years that they had felt connected
- the first time in a long time that they had found people to speak with, to hear them and to share their stories – for many it had been a lonely two long years.
Alas, for at least 200 people, this was also the first time they had been arrested, charged, and in some incredible situations, mishandled and hurt by Police.
For those arrested, we were able to offer them all support via our online resources with invaluable information on what to do if arrested, and if charged, what to expect on your first day at court. Those resources are still relevant today and have been used by others in the freedom movement since Parliament.
In addition to our resources, we were able to support at least 150 people with recommendations for lawyers and at least 93 members with direct legal aid support for their charges.
Of those we directly assisted with legal aid, an incredibly satisfying 79% have had their charges withdrawn or accepted diversion (64% had their charges withdrawn – meaning there was no case to answer) and 15% accepted diversion – which means they were not charged. Of the remaining people (6%), they are still going through the process and as far as we are aware, no defended hearing has yet occurred.
This has been a significant victory not just for those arrested, but for all of us that were peacefully protesting on the grounds of parliament. It sends a strong message that none of us were acting illegally (which was the reason the politicians gave for not coming down to talk to us) and that we are not backing down.
Together we have stood our ground both on the steps of parliament and in the courtroom!
2. THE INQUIRY INTO POLICE INVOLVEMENT AT THE FREEDOM PROTEST
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) is conducting an inquiry into the Police involvement at the Freedom Protests (Inquiry).
The IPCA is an independent body set up under legislation to keep watch over the Police. It handles, investigates and resolves complaints against the Police (conduct, strategic response). Their website states that: they are headed by a Judge and are not answerable to the Police, the Government or anyone else about our findings.
The Inquiry into the Protest began in April 2022 and is due to be completed April 2023. The IPCA has received nearly 2000 complaints about police behaviour at the Protests and they are investigating these. We have been contacted by the Director of the Inquiry, lawyer, Sarah Goodall, to see whether we have any photos and videos, or other information that might be useful to the Inquiry.
We do appreciate that some of you will have concerns about the Inquiry: that it will not have much sway, that it may not make any findings against Police, or that it may misuse information it receives. We take these concerns seriously. However, on balance, we consider it is worthwhile putting in a complaint or providing any information to the Inquiry you may have. This is a way for your voice to be heard.
Of course, ultimately, it is up to you whether you decide to get in touch with the IPCA. If you do have important information, photos or videos or a legitimate complaint, then this is one of the main forums for you to have recourse.
For more information about the IPCA Inquiry into the Freedom Protest see the IPCA’s:
3. HOW YOU CAN MAKE A COMPLAINT:
If you have a complaint about the treatment you received from Police while at the Freedom Protest and have not yet laid your complaint, then you need to do so by 26 September 2022 (less than two weeks from now), you can make a complaint to the IPCA about the Freedom Protest here.
We encourage you to make your complaint. This is the chance for your voice to be heard. Without hearing it, the Inquiry will not be fully informed.
4. HOW YOU CAN SUBMIT PHOTOS OR VIDEOS:
If you have photos or videos or any other recordings of police behaviour that you took while at the Freedom Protest, then the Authority is requesting copies of these.
- You will need to verify that you filmed the footage yourself.
- You must be the owner of the footage.
- You must have been present at the protest at the time the footage was filmed.
If you have already provided footage, you will not need to submit it again.
To let the IPCA know that you have photos or videos or any other recordings then you can email them with that information at [email protected]. If the data files are too large to email, then let them know and they will make arrangements to facilitate its delivery.
5. HOW YOU CAN SUBMIT INFORMATION:
If you have any information that will be of use to the Inquiry then you can email them with that information at [email protected].
We do encourage you to provide any and all information to the Inquiry that goes to Police involvement at the Freedom Protest. This is a chance for our voices to be heard and your story to be told.
STAY WELL. AND KEEP HUGGING.
Head Of Legal | Voices For Freedom