Monday, July 11, 2011

An abuse of police power

Back in February, police officers in Christchurch arrested Arie Smith, who has Asperger's syndrome, for "looting" two lightbulbs from a damaged building, and allegedly beat him. Since then they have relentlessly and vindictively pursued prosecution, against the repeated suggestion of several judges, as revenge for his daring to speak out against his treatment. And now, after the case was covered by the Sunday program last night, they are apparently investigating the media.

This is a clear abuse of police power, with the obvious goal of stifling public oversight and criticism of the police's handling of this case. And we should not tolerate it. As Russell Brown argues, "a line has now been crossed. This is a matter for the Minister of Police". And if she will not act to ensure that the police respect the right of the public to investigate and criticise their actions, then we will have become a very unpleasant society indeed.

(Meanwhile, we can add this to the growing pile of evidence showing that nothing has changed in the police, and that the same toxic culture of unaccountability which saw them cover up rapes by their fellow officers lives on...)

Update: The Herald has the details:

Inspector Erasmus watched the Sunday story last night and confirmed the programme was being investigated.

"Police confirm that they are investigating the actions of the Sunday programme in relation to their dealings with parties in the case.

"The matter remains before the court and we will not make any further comment at this stage."

So, its official: the NZ police's response to allegations of serious misconduct is to threaten and investigate anyone reporting them. Our police force is out of control, and behaving like the security thugs of a third-world dictator.