The Independent Police Conduct Authority has received several hundred complaints from anti-vaccine mandate protesters at Parliament.
The complaints have taken the form of emails, phone messages and online complaints, and concern activities related to the ongoing protest at Parliament in Wellington since Tuesday, the authority’s general manager Kevin Currie said in an statement on Friday afternoon.
“We will be applying our normal assessment process to all matters referred to our office. Given the high volume of contacts our assessment process may take some time,” he said.
The authority would not comment on the exact content of the information provided to it by protesters.
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Shannon Parker from the New Zealand Police Conduct Association – an organisation which supports people to lay complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority – said it received more than 50 emails from protesters since midnight Thursday, after her details were shared in a protester-operated online chat group.
Parker answered calls through Thursday night from protesters, who mistakenly believed she represented the IPCA itself.
“I would try and talk to them about how to actually lay an IPCA complaint and they would scream at me, right from the start of the call, saying ‘stand the police down’ and talking about police corruption,” she said.
“No-one at the IPCA is going to be receptive to that.”
Parker was happy to help protesters with legitimate concerns to lay a formal complaint with the IPCA, but she was worried the overall volume of complaints could bury genuine complaints about police conduct.
Protesters have been alleging police have been using excessive force at Parliament. The protesters have been sharing footage online and printing out photographs of what they argue constitutes police misconduct.
As the anti-mandate protest at Parliament enters day four, police have overnight set up cordons and floodlights on the forecourt.
Particular incidents which have caught the ire of protesters include one where a man being arrested appeared to have his face knelt on by a police officer, and another where a naked protester appeared to be dragged by her hair by police before being arrested.
But police have consistently denied using excessive force.
“I think if you’ve watched any of the footage … which I have intently, and our people have acted proportionately, fairly and very professionally,” Wellington district commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell said at a media stand-up on Thursday.
Police have used pepper spray on at least two occasions after officers were pulled into the crowd. Two police staff were injured on Thursday, while some protesters have also suffered minor injuries, according to police.
While some police were carrying batons on Friday, the equipment was removed after police deemed their use was “not in line” with police’s ongoing “measured” approach to protesters, Parnell said.
“Images and videos shared online often do not provide the full context of the protest activity and the difficult situation police staff face,” he said.