Racism: The missing word in the IPCA report

Ruatoki_cop

Yesterday’s Independent Police Conduct Authority report was surprising in the extent of its condemnation of the police’s actions in relation to Operation 8 – the so-called ‘anti-terror’ raids of 15 October 2007.

The 80-page report calls the police’s actions ‘unlawful, unjustified and unreasonable’ some 77 times. It says that the police intimidated people, arbitrarily detained them and repeatedly violated their rights.

The IPCA’s report, however, does not say the glaringly obvious, the word on the tip of everyone’s tongue: racist.

The police operation was an example of extreme racism in two respects: 1. the basis of the investigation and 2. the execution of raids in Ruatoki and elsewhere.

The IPCA has vindicated the police’s investigation saying that it was justified. It is unclear on what information this is based, except the police themselves. Perhaps the reasoning used is that because criminal convictions were secured against four people that justified the 2-year-long operation and 7-year-long court proceedings.

The basis of the police’s investigation was an existential fear of tino rangatiratanga. The Special Investigation Group was charged with ‘monitoring radical groups’ into which they catagorise anything to do with Maori aspirations for tino rangatiratanga. The consistent surveillance of Maori activists such as Taame Iti was the start of Operation 8.

This is borne out by an examination of some 40,000 pages of police disclosure, the seizure of everything from Robert Tuwhare’s film Tuhoe: a history of resistance to children’s Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe t-shirts to the Ao Café webserver which hosted millions of bytes of information on all aspects of Maoritanga to the investigation of Tuhoe land ownership and whakapapa.

Ultimately the police went looking to find terrorists. They found old firearms and evidence of people throwing beer bottles at an old oven in the bush. This is the basis of the convictions. Even one of the loosest and most poorly written laws – Section 98(A) Participation in an organised criminal group – didn’t stack up in court.

The operation ultimately was conducted illegally. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that “In circumstances where the police officer in charge of the inquiry knew that there was no authority to be obtained for such filmed surveillance, the deliberate unlawfulness of the police conduct in the covert filming, maintained over many entries and over a period of some 10 months, is destructive of an effective and credible system of justice.”

It never says in the Supreme Court ruling that the unlawful trespass onto Tuhoe land happened because police had no regard for the private property of Maori, but at the end of the day, that is precisely the situation. The hot-shots at Auckland Metro Crime thought they were onto a major indigenous terror plot and weren’t about to let a little issue like the rights of some poor brown folks get in their way.

As for the raids on the 15th of October 2007, the IPCA report goes some way to explaining the poor relationship between Maori and the Crown going back generations. But the report never suggests that the police hierarchy made grossly racist assumptions in Ruatoki. They assumed that they couldn’t trust the local Maori liaison cop because he was Tuhoe. They assumed that everyone in Ruatoki was a terrorist or at minimum a terrorist sympathizer. They assumed that no one would care that a small Maori community had been invaded by a paramilitary force once their terror plot investigation finished. These assumptions point to a police force deeply steeped in racist ideology.

As Emily Bailey has noted in her statement, an “apology too full of excuses and too late” doesn’t change that.

The existing police force in this country is not fit for purpose. Continuing reports of over-representation of Maori in the so-called ‘criminal justice system’ is evidence that after more than 170 years of colonisation, racist New Zealand flourishes.

Comments

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What about all the talk of planning to kill people. Indymedia/solidarity propagandists NEVER address this issue. masive denialist blind spot in your coverage of this. Your PR is so blantantly one sided. It's worse that stuff.co.nz.

Some of your conclusions above are a little simplistic and sensationalistic.

Not to mention kidnapping those two boys at gunpoint

The 'mainstream' media's propaganda about operation 8 was sensationalistic!! What death threats are you talking about? A bus being catapulted onto Bush? Did we ever get to hear the evidence the police had in context? of course not... The police are state funded goons. They seek to protect private interests, this has been demonstrated time after time!

As if Media articles about the Raids were objective. I remember watching the news on several evenings and seeing so-called journalists simply reading the information given to them by the cops, without any thought as to whether what they were reading was accurate or truthful. These raids have divided friends and family - I have relatives who believe that I support Terrorism because I have said that a number of the people who were arrested are my friends. To my knowledge there were no organised plans to kill people. Here context is important, the police were conducting illegal surveillance on many people's most private emails and text messages, not only those who were arrested. Many people social networking while angry, intoxicated or fatigued have made comments about political enemies, which if taken by themselves could be interpreted as violent or even homicidal. There is a world of difference between someone saying in a text message to an intimate friend, "I hate that bastard and I wish he was dead", and an extremist group making an organised assassination plan to kill that person.

SBB, do you think you have evidence of a terrorist group that 2 years of multi-million dollar police surveillance and 8 years of media-prejudiced trials somehow missed? If you want to live in a police state where frivalous comments taken out of context justify terrorist raids on a whole community of innocent people, then I suggest you take the advice of so many of your fellow right-wingers, and move to North Korea.

>> Not to mention kidnapping those two boys at gunpoint <<

Do you have any evidence for this fancifal claim?

The boys being kidnapped was widely reported in the mainstream media at the time.

The police operation was wrong and I agree that many people had rights voilated in Tuhoe, but I still think there was a case to be made agiants the suspects, and the people arrested the first time around.
Read the police document available through wikileaks.
Look at the evidence given in court
Context: stockpiling guns, military style training and talking about killing white M************, how does context explain that?

Bluntmannz: While I agree that "There is a world of difference between someone saying in a text message to an intimate friend, "I hate that bastard and I wish he was dead", and an extremist group making an organised assassination plan to kill that person" i think the people that were arrested were moving closer towards the latter position.

@SBB
>> The boys being kidnapped was widely reported in the mainstream media at the time. <<

First I've heard of it. Can you provide any links or references other than "the mainstream media" (hardly the most credible source).

I'm pleased you can acknowledge that the police operation was wrong.

>> Context: stockpiling guns, military style training and talking about killing white M************, how does context explain that? <<

"stockpiling guns", y ou mean a few old hunting rifles, some of which may have looked military, but were not even semi-automatic, let alone automatic?

"military style training", you mean like paintball, or my friends at high school who played war games in the bush with BB guns?

"killing white M...", you mean like in lots of gangster rap?

Context, SBB, is very important, and when this context is supplied, it will make it clear that there was no case to answer, and that there is no reason to think "the people that were arrested were moving closer towards the latter position". Now the formalities of the trials and the IPCA report are out of the way, hopefully there can be a full public equiry into the whole affair, and justice for the Tūhoe and other communities affected.

You left out the fact that they were actuall trianing to work as security operatives in the middle east. Thats why they were running around in the bush with camo, balaclavas, guns and molotov cocktails. Given the context of some of the defendadnts past peace activism I found this a bit surprising.

Guess they should have brushed up on legislation around possession of firearms first though, could have saved them a lot of trouble.

The only alterantive to the mainstream media in NZ is indymedia. I actually started reading indymedia because I wanted to learn more about the case, but I found their coverage worse that the mainstream media. Indymedias coverage of this event has entirely come fromPR from the 'journalists' at the October 15th solidarity group- hardly balanced coverage. They wear their bias on their sleeve.

Tena koe SBB,

"What about all the talk of planning to kill people."

There was talk by a few people in private text messages and chat logs about wanting to or having to kill people in defence. Some of the former, had you known the people, was tongue in cheek gangsta talk by an old koroua. None of it was planning. Correct me if I'm wrong.

"stockpiling guns, military style training and talking about killing white M************, how does context explain that?"

There were about 8 guns that went to trial, some just pieces, found in about 5 or 6 different places I think between Wellington and Auckland. Hardly what I would call stockpiling. My cousin is a hunter and she has 13 guns in the family house locked up. That's how they do in the country.

What is military style training exactly? Target practice? Walking in formation? Covering? That can be used for defence/security work or just plain team work as you will find at corporate team building boot camps etc. It is not illegal.

Two people talked about "killing white M************" in a private (text?) conversation.

"Not to mention kidnapping those two boys at gunpoint "

As the boys said in court they did not feel scared and it was explained to them that it was just an exercise albeit after the initial exercise. They remembered people saying are you ok and sorry etc during it.

"they were actuall trianing to work as security operatives in the middle east... Given the context of some of the defendadnts past peace activism I found this a bit surprising. "

What failed to get through in the media and obviously to the crown is that people had different reasons for why they went and different exercises happened at different camps. You might have noticed certain peace activists were not present during the guy's workshop who appeared at trial, the security guy who worked in Iraq.

"Guess they should have brushed up on legislation around possession of firearms first though, could have saved them a lot of trouble. "

It is not illegal to train to use a firearm without a licence and indeed you have to to get one. The convictions were on unlawful possession but it was never truly proven what unlawfulness that was. The judge went back to criminal group activity even though the jury had not convicted the four on that charge.

i should add they weren't kidnapped in the sense you might think. they went somewhere with their coach and Tame to help with some training and then were stopped on a bush track at gunpoint and made to walk with tame and their coach from their car at which point they were told it was an exercise. Kind of stupid and not very safe yes but not a big crime. God knows why that happened. It does not appear to have been repeated except with the security guard later on showing removal of a VIP from a car for protection.

Tena koe Em,,
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Your measured and informative response is appreciated.
: )

Ae, thanks Em. It's always best to get information directly from the source, rather than relying on intermediaries.

SBB,
I am not part of the October15Solidarity group, although I have done political and community work with some of those raided on October 15, including work on Indymedia itself, and met others at activist hui. I wrote a number of articles for Indymedia on Operation8, particularly in the first couple of months after the raids. I did not pretend to be objective - indeed one of the core principles of Indymedia is that journalistic objectivity is a myth, and that the best we can do is "radical, accurate, and passionate, tellings of the truth" - but I did my best to tell the truths that were being left out of the hysterical propaganda being uncritically echoed by the corporate media.

In the days after the raids, it became clear that Operation8 was part of a planned campaign to demonize radical activists, and drive a wedge between us and the public, by associating activism with "terrorism", and to equate the principled defence of political autonomy with plans to violently overthrow the NZ state. Nobody accused Occupy of trying to overthrow the state when we defended our democratic assemblies against eviction by its forces, but it would have been no less ridiculous than the claims made in the corporate media about Tūhoe and their supporters.

Indymedia, along with Scoop, and the film-makers who made 'Operation 8: Deep in the Forest', have done their best to tell the other side of the story. It's up to you read critically among all the sources available to you, including both corporate and independent media, and decide where the balance lies.

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