"Students" protested in Auckland yesterday afternoon, disrupting peak-hour traffic in Queen Street. But have a look at this TVNZ footage; there are a lot of Unite Union placards, and Socialist Aotearoa banners evident in the thick of the action.
Joe Carolan of Socialist Aotearoa said students were dressed up in togas and waving red flags to accept English's challenge to protest like the Greeks.He described police as "aggressive" and explains at one point they came into the crowd and arrested a petite Asian girl which caused boos from protesters and onlookers.He was not sure why people were arrested saying it was their democratic right to march.
There's a subtle difference between marching and deliberately obstructing traffic Joe, but then again, you probably knew that. It's something we'll return to soon.
And the Otago Daily Times mentions another familiar name:
Senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Campbell Jones, said police had hit and dragged a number of students.Mr Jones delivered a lecture at the protest, reading Plato to the students just before police broke up the crowd."What they're protesting today is a disgraceful political decision."The elite will have education and others won't,'' he said.
Think back to late 2011. Campbell Jones was the go-to guy for media at Occupy Auckland. Joe Carolan was also a key person in the Occupy movement, and Socialist Aotearoa and the Unite Union were also to the forefront.
So was this REALLY a student protest? The highest figure we've seen for yesterday was around 300 protesters. Take away the unionists and the socialists, and how many students were actually there?
The University of Auckland website claims that UoA is the biggest university in New Zealand "with 38,500 students, nearly 10,000 of whom graduate annually.". Let's be charitable, and say that there were 200 real students there yesterday. That's 0.52% of the university's student population; hardly an overwhelming majority, but not unlike the Occupy protesters who purported to be the 99% when in reality they were perhaps the 0.5% at best.
Now we don't have any issue at all with students, Unite Union, Socialist Aotearoa or anyone protesting, and we can remember joining anti-Vietnam War protests in the early 1970's when we were still but callow and youthful, and very impressionable. But deliberately impeding peak hour traffic is stupid and irresponsible, and the police were well within their rights to try and clear the intersection.