'Star Wars' police creating climate of fear - activist

By Edward Gay

Veteran activist John Minto said the police are generating a climate of fear with armed police wearing black face masks following yesterday's anti-terror raids.

"It looked like something out of Star Wars," Mr Minto said.

He said the police have a role to protect the community but their reaction has been "completely over the top".

He said the arrested activists have been charged with criminal offences but the terrorism act should not have been evoked.

"This is wanna-be terrorist fighters, these guys," he said.

Mr Minto said the police have put an "exit strategy" in place and the terrorism charges will not see the light of day.

"They're already saying it will be the Attorney General who will make that decision, despite the fact they've had 15 bloody months to make that decision," Mr Minto said.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad has cautioned against "jumping to conclusions" until the police have weighed up whether there was sufficient evidence to get the consent of Solicitor-General David Collins for charges to be laid under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

One left-leaning commentator who says he has links to political activist movements, has backed the police.

Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury said on one blog site that he had been talking to people in the activist community and was concerned that the activities of some "clowns" could lead to a backlash from the wider public.

"If the allegations as I understand them are true, this country is about to get very, very, very angry," Mr Bradbury said.

"Though I don't believe for one moment what will be revealed is anything more than stupid arrogant boasts... middle New Zealand will recoil in horror."

Mr Bradbury said he believed the police had been right to be concerned.

"There is going to be outrage when the full story gets out the likes of which talkback has never dreamt of," he said.

Elsewhere on anarchist websites and independent media blogs meetings and protests were being against what they described as continuing repression by the state.

Assistant Police commissioner Jon White said today there was a provision in the Terrorism Suppression Act that it was not to be used against people engaged in domestic activity.

While, there was no designated terrorist organisation in New Zealand, police had been involved in the operation for a long time and had sought legal advice, he said.

"This is not about targeting legitimate protest at all," he said.

- with NZPA

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