Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Our tone-deaf police

Yesterday, the Police announced that Armed Response Teams would not be part of policing in New Zealand. This morning, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster was on RNZ talking about the "trial". And the first thing he talked about was giving police more weapons:

Coster: The example that we've seen through the course of the ART trial was sponge rounds. They're a less-lethal option that allow incapacitation of someone from a safe distance, and that can avoid the need to actually use a firearm.

Espiner: So like a rubber bullet type of thing?

Coster: Its a sponge round. If you can imagine a 40mm sponge projectile that can wind people or incapacitate them sufficiently to get close and arrest them without needing to use a firearm.

What he's talking about is this. The NZ police bought 850 of them back in 2013 for the armed offenders squad. They're used primarily by oppressive regimes - Israel, Hong Kong, the US - for "crowd control": to suppress protests. They're being used in the US right this minute against Black Lives Matter protesters and the journalists covering them. As for what they do, while Coster talks of "wind[ing] and incapacitat[ing]", in reality these weapons break bones, blind, and kill. A quick google will show you distressing pictures of what they do to people and turn up news reports of kids being killed by them. For the police to be talking about deploying them now, when this is on all our feeds, shows how completely tone-deaf they are on the issue of militarisation. We don't want them to have these weapons. We don't want that sort of policing - the American, beat people and shoot them style - in our country. We can see, right now, what it means and where it goes. And the police just are not getting the message.

The police's enthusiasm for more and more weapons with which to hurt us and their refusal to listen to the public shows that they need to be bought under control. Parliament needs to legislate immediately to do so.