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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 2. 1967.

Protesting Protestor

page 11

Protesting Protestor

Sir,—I was arrested at midday on the day Air Vice-Marshal Ky arrived in Hamilton.

The night before, I had been invited around to a friend's house to plan a rather undemonstrative protest and to write a letter to the Waikato Times. About eight people attended this meeting and we decided to meet outside the Hotel Riverina (without having any drinks beforehand) the next day, with banners, and to stage a silent protest. The letter we wrote was subsequently published.

I arrived on the scene five minutes early. The place was lousy with police, they were decked out in white hats and were very conspicuous. Just as I reached the rather large crowd that had gathered, Ky's car came into sight. Everyone sighed and murmured, the police hustled the crowd back officiously.

A suave, young Asiatic sprang out of the car and gave a Pepsodent smile. The crowd's immediate reaction was to cheer. But I was shocked by the smooth sprightliness of a man who by his own words and actions admitted to be an admirer of Hitler. Almost instinctively I began shouting "Go home Ky. Go home Ky." Behind me someone else began shouting "Is Hitler in the car with you?" I thought it was my friends, but, alas, they had not turned up yet.

I had not shouted for more than a minute when a great arm descended upon me. I turned around to see a large, All Black type trying to pull me to the back of the crowd.

Naturally I resisted but was thrown to the ground. Three policemen waddled to the scene and concussed me. (I say concussed for I remember no more until I was bundled into the police car, but several friends have told me what happened next.) Apparently the three policemen threw me around until the tv cameraman trained himself upon us, then they picked me up and threw me in their car. The other man was arrested with me, his shirt had been torn from his back.

At the police station, I was searched, photographed and fingerprinted. Then I was put in a cell which already had about 10 people in it, including a convicted rapist and a suspected seducer of young boys. No charge was read to me. I was not told when I would be allowed out. I asked two policemen who came to feed us (without enough plates or cutlery) about this; one said I was in for six months, the other told me to shut up. After eight hours my father came to bail me out for £50. The other Ky protesters stayed there much longer.

About two days later I appeared in court, but because the sergeant who had arrested me was not there (he had been sent in from Rotorua to help quell the mob), my case was adjourned. However, it was one day's leave from work without pay. Then after five more days I appeared again. I pleaded not guilty. I had got a lawyer and had been told that I had been charged with pushing through the crowd and shouting"Fascist, Murderer—Go Home." Both were untrue, and I decided to tell the court so.

The Rotorua policeman read out his version of the story. It differed slightly, although significantly, from his former statement. This time he alleged that I had yelled, "Butcher — Go Home." Of course I had only said "Go Home." He also alleged that I had made a nuisance of myself by pushing women and children in front of me in my efforts to reach the forefront of the crowd.

Actually, as soon as people realised that Ky had arrived, they had rushed to the back and the whole crowd had swayed back and forward in the usual way. However, the magistrate preferred, as he was bound to do, the police's version to mine. He did not realise that their story was merely a justification of arrest and that the police had, naturally enough, been on their toes after the violent Auckland protests.

However, because of my "academic ability and future" I was let off with a year's remand.

Simon During.