Sunday, 22 January 2012

Occupy Auckland | Protesters claim police switch... |

Occupy protesters claim police switch ID tags


Last updated 14:24 23/01/2012
Occupy police badges

TWO OF A KIND: Police officers in Auckland's Aotea Square wearing the same badge number.

Police officers arresting Occupy protesters in Auckland this morning were wearing identical badge numbers, leading to claims from protesters that it was a deliberate attempt to ensure they couldn't be identified.

Protesters claimed this morning that up to four officers in Aotea Square were wearing the same badge number - Z557. Photographic evidence partially backs those claims, with one photograph showing two officers wearing the same number.

Officers must wear identification badges to help be identified by members of the public complaining about or praising police actions.

Police, security guards and council staff today moved to shut down the Occupy camps across Auckland, leading to the arrest of three protesters and frequent scuffles and standoffs between the parties.

Protester Merlin Blackmore, who today claimed four officers were wearing the same number, claims the identical numbers are being used to allow police to act with impunity.

"The police are supposed to have an identification number so you can identify them if they're being naughty.

"That's like having two people with the same drivers licence or passport... one of them was one of the people who was being physically quite brutal whilst arresting a protester and yanking them out of the van."

Blackmore believed police could use this tactic to deny complaints, saying the officer could not be identified. However, the break-up of the protest and subsequent arrests were carried out in front of a large media contingent and members of the public.

It is not yet known why the officers were wearing the same identification numbers.

A police national headquarters spokeswoman confirmed the officers should be wearing their own numbers but referred calls to Auckland police, who have not returned calls.

This is not the first time issues have been raised over the way police dealt with Occupy protesters as the movement spread across the world.

Officers in Oakland, Boston and Houston were found to have covered their nameplates and badges while dispersing Occupy protests in the US.

"This is exactly the kind of thing that we've seen in New York and across the world where police have covered their badge numbers and [used] these kinds of tactics," Blackmore said.

It was also reported that some officers in the US were targeted by internet hackers as a result of their involvement in arresting protesters.

Blackmore said they would discuss what they would do as a result.

"We will be seeking appropriate legal recourse, we'll have to talk to our lawyers and we'll have to have general assembly and discuss that in consensus.

"This is a complete crock of s---".