Monday, November 12, 2007


The Dominion Post published articles based on the affadavit the police used to get the search warrant for the October 15 raids.

If the Dominion Post was actually interested in a debate over whether or not the raids were justified on the basis of the evidence they could have published the entire affadavit on Stuff. The fact that they did not do this, instead found some cherry-picked pull quotes, demonstrates that they're not actually interested in informed debate, but selling newspapers.

I'm well aware that I don't have any right to object to others publishing information that may prejudice a defendents right to a fair trial.

But what I do object to is that the information presented to gain a search warrants is referred to as 'the evidence' - and there's an argument that there's some overwhelming right to know it. The police have stolen bits of my friends, and many others, for over a year.* They arranged what they'd taken and gave it to the Manakau District Court. The Dominion Post then took what they'd arranged and rearranged it and put it on the front page of the paper.

The entire debate over these documents, is based on the idea that they are 'the evidence' about what happened in the Urewera. I reject that idea, and not just because I know the people. I think there are far more important, accurate and revealing sources about the defendents and their actions (even Jamie Lockett) than what the police have stolen from them. The powerful tell stories about the powerless all the time - a basic part of trying to create a better world is ignoring those stories in favour of the stories the powerless tell about themselves.

* Just for the record I have no idea if any of the quotes the Dominion Post highlighted came from anyone I know.


  1. Hey, this turned into a post on my blog too :)

    I think when it comes down to it, this matter shouldn't be understood as a matter of 'justice', but rather as a system that sees these people as being guilty precisely because they do challenge the state and status quo in quite radical ways. Being willing challenge to for Tino Rangatiratanga in a real manner, or symbolically in a way that affirms the power of the person engaging in the act (such as in a passionate haka) is itself sufficient evidence of guilt. Not guilt in the legal sense, but guilt in the sense that the person doing so is a threat to society, a nutjob, violent. That's what gives the Dominion Post, and the vast majority of opinion outlets* to give judgement on these people

    To invoke what Maia said in another post,

    There is a point in here, I think. I hated in the Ahmed Zaoui campaign that his worthiness was always a matter of debate. That he needed to be portrayed as a deeply spirtual man who wrote poetry in order to earn his freedom. We lose if we debate on those terms, because we make rights things we have to earn with perfection. Even though I know that some of those arrested are pretty fucking awesome, I don't think it's their awesomeness which means that they should be free, it's their humanity.

    This latest action by the police/state/media** is aimed at precisely this, undermining the right of the accused to be seen as human beings deserving of rights.

    *Is it unfair to call the media (and I'm not alleging a monolith - this is an independent media outlet) a thought control machine? After all, the purpose of opinion outlets, and more opaquely 'news', is to present a particular set of facts and opinions and present them as the ones that are most important and deserving of your attention, and have the purpose of creating reality, especially for those without the time, energy or resources to scrutinise and challenge these interpretations.

    **Again, I'm not alleging conspiracy here, only that people who think the same, and see the world from a particular (Mt Eden/Thorndon etc.) viewpoint are the ones in control in each of these institutions.

  2. Anonymous1:40 pm

    What about the publics right to know about the justifications for the police's actions. If you were truly a believer in an open and just democratic society then you would support the Dominions's publication irrespective of what effect it would have on your friends.

    The principles of freedom of expressions and speech are far more important at this point than the rights of the accused.

    After all, during the Rickards et al trial you wanted the past convictions of the accused to be used against them despite it being against their right to a fair trial and would have thus prejudiced the outcome

    How then can you hold the completely opposite perspective?

    Justice should depend upon principles not the political affiliations of the accused.

  3. Anonymous - please re-read my post and respond to what I actually said, rather than what you imagined I said.

  4. Anonymous11:33 am

    I dont think there is a way to sell it as consistant at that level. Because facts of any case aside - I don't think you would have engaged any less in cherry picking of facts if you had such a document on a rapist.

    And to be fair, I doubt those that supported Rickards would be any more consistant at that level.

    I would say it is all about their membership in the "oppressed group" or "dominant group" and how that compares to the other side - ie your position is a function of the wider battle rather than the facts of a case.

    So a policeman or any other actor for the state is one you would like to see slandered while being a woman or a minority or a sick person etc would all count towards their right to not be (for others the exact opposite might be the case).


  5. The past convictions were relevant to the police rapist cases; they should have been part of a fair trial, and withholding the information from the jury made it unfair in the defendant's favour. Wanting the jury to have access to all the facts is a quite different matter to publishing a biased subset of evidence on the front page of the newspaper, smearing 17 people with quotes from just a couple.

  6. Anonymous6:18 pm


    I guess the point is - do you want a jury/judge to consider the past offenses (or potential 'terrorism') of the 17 when considering their firearms charges?

    And on the other side - how much effort did/would you have gone to to ensure that you didn't smear every one of the cops who were involved with what one of them said/did or to present the total picture including defense?

    I don't think it is such a terrible crime to treat these people/situations differently - I am just 'calling it'.


  7. Anonymous10:42 am

    I wonder if Valerie Morse and the other activists are aware of the brutal irony of the situation they are now in regarding their trial by media.

    She and others were involved in distributing pamphlets regarding clint rickards and the other accused in an effort to smear them because they didn't agree with the verdict.
    Now the same thing is happening to them through leaked police evidence files and the activist community is up in arms over this issue over this injustice despite the fact that they are quite happy to engage in the same tactics when it suits them. Crocodile tears I'd say.

    If they were more consistent in applying their principles to everyone then I'd have a lot more sympathy for them.

    If you live by the sword then you die by the sword.

  8. capitalism must die

  9. I'm not sure exactly what the firearms charges entail. The jury should have all relevant information, which I expect would include any past firearms convictions, but I greatly doubt the relevance of most of the surveillance material. Gang rape by people in positions of authority is a very different matter to ordinary individuals failing to submit an application to be processed by cops that they know are biased against them.

    I'm not the media; it's not my job to provide unbiased information. Also, the actions of individual police officers reflect on the entire police institution in a way that idiocy by individuals shouldn't tar activism in general. Political activism is a class of activity, not an organisation with controllable membership, and it doesn't give anyone special powers.

  10. Anonymous7:06 pm

    I don't think the media see it as their job to provide unbiased information anymore. Did they ever?

    Maybe they should - but if so then so, surely, should you and I.