9 Oct 2017 – Protesters clashing with police while blockading a defence industry conference in Wellington have been carried from the venue.
Shouting “army of the rich, enemy of the poor” the group had set out to make life uncomfortable for those attending what they’ve labelled a weapons expo.
At least three people appear to have been carried and escorted away from the scene by police, one in handcuffs, but police said as at 10am there had been no arrests.
“We don’t want anyone hurt,” officers told the group, who were pushing up against police and forcing them onto the road outside Westpac Stadium, where the New Zealand Defence Industry Association forum is being held.
The forum includes discussions on emerging technologies and cybersecurity.
New Green MP Chloe Swarbrick was among the protesters, telling 1News Kiwis needed to stand up for change.
“I think it’s really crucial we do things like protest, that we do stand up, that we do have those difficult and uncomfortable conversations because otherwise nothing is ever going to change,” she said.
Anglican Bishop of Wellington, Justin Duckworth, also attended.
The protesters are connected with Peace Action Wellington.
“It’s important to act and to target the drivers of war, those who make billions of dollars from killing people,” protest spokeswoman Jessie Dennis said.
“[Today] is our opportunity to shut down their business, to mess with their profit and to ultimately make the world a better and safer place.”
It’s the third year in a row protesters have targeted the week-long conference, using it as a chance to rally against war, violence and weapons.
Two years ago, more than two dozen were arrested after 75 people, one dressed as the grim reaper and others holding masks of former prime minister John Key, locked arms to stop delegates entering the forum.
Global weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin sponsored last year’s forum, which was attended by about 700 defence industry and government representatives.
Forum organisers said at the time the defence sector generated $60 million for the New Zealand economy and employed 2500 people.