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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 3. 14th March 1973

On the Beat

page 5

On the Beat

Silhouette of a pig as a cop

from our Crime Reporter

On Friday the 9th March shortly after 10pm, two young girls were cruelly molested by a police patrol In the Cuba Mall. The girls were walking towards the upper end of the Mall in an orderly manner when two policemen drove up beside them, closely inspecting the girls as they drew by. One of the girls made a two fingered gesture in answer to this scrutiny. The police reaction was swift. The car jerked around and one officer leapt out, shouting "Right — let's get them!"

Without informing his victim of her rights or even telling her that she was arrested, the officer siezed the girl roughly by her clothing and attempted to drag her into his vehicle. The other girl waved her hands to her friend; at this stage she had not been arrested. But as the first began to struggle with the policeman the other girl attempted to intervene; whereupon a second policeman ran over and seized her.

At this point I shouted to the girls to give me their names end I would get them a lawyer. I suggested that they cease resisting arrest and fight the policemen in the courtroom. These appeals were met with blank stares and it became apparent that the girls were both deaf mutes. I then wrote my suggestions on paper and showed it to the girls, who were still resisting the police officers heavy handed treatment. One of the policemen told me, "You've got ten seconds to leave or we'll run you in for obstruction". I replied that there were plenty of witnesses to the fact that I had not obstructed him, but had, if anything, assisted him in the execution of his duty. A few minutes later the bewildered girls were manhandled into the police car and driven off.

A nurse from the Wellington hospital who had witnessed the performance told me that the girls appeared to be mongols. "I've worked with such people often", she said. "If you talk nice and kind to them they'll do anything for you. If you're rude and rough you get nowhere. Mongols go on first impressions of people, the police approach made them fight. Anyway, the police should respect women — even if they aren't all dressed up in flash clothes"

There is more to this shabby incident than a lack of common decency on the part of the policemen. The apprehension of harmless people without charge or warning is in direct contravention of the law. This assumes a sinister aspect when one becomes aware that such arrogant police behaviour as this takes place almost every day. The administration of on the spot "justice" has even been flaunted in the Police column "On the Beat", in the "Sports Post" where a gang of bikies were attacked and their property wilfully damaged. No one can be expected to keep law and order when policemen themselves decline to do so.