Weapons conference protestor says Police started violence

Author
Newstalk ZB Staff ,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 16 November 2016, 9:46a.m.

UPDATED 11.12AM A rally at a defence industry conference in Auckland has turned ugly.

Protestors at the annual New Zealand Defence Industry Association Forum formed a human blockade in an attempt to stop delegates attending the meeting.

Spokesperson for No Pride in Prisons Emilie Rākete said the conference enables arms dealers to sell weapons.

"The only violence I saw was from Police. I was right up the front the whole time and everyone behaved really well."

She said she saw "shoving and elbow pushing" from the Police.

A police spokesperson said the actions of police are dictated by the situation presented to them.  

Earlier this week, the New Zealand Defence Industry Association said it is a "misunderstood" sector that generates $60 million for the economy.

NZDIA chair Bernie Diver said the forum will bring together 170 businesses from a sector that employs 2500 people and pays $125million in wages.

While some suppliers provided weaponry, he said the vast majority supplied New Zealand soldiers equipment to undertake maintenance, repairs, logistics, engineering and other civil services.

"Close to 1000 people are employed nationally in food and services alone, and a further 600 in repair and maintenance contracts," he said.

At last year's forum in Wellington around 75 protesters, one dressed as the grim reaper, chanted "blood on your hands" had attempted to stop delegates. Police arrested more than two dozen of the protesters after scuffles turned violent.

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