Response to illegal roadblocks is "inadequate and unacceptable"

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been called on to step in and provide strong and unequivocal leadership on the continuing and growing proliferation of illegal roadblocks. Democracy Action says that the self-appointed community activists and patched gang members manning the roadblocks have been emboldened by Police inaction on the clear offences. The Police seem to have taken their lead from Minister of Police Stuart Nash’s soft stance.

Democracy Action spokesperson, Lee Short, said: 

“It is unacceptable that one group appears to be above the law. These roadblocks are stopping and intimidating ordinary New Zealanders travelling lawfully on public roads. The only groups authorised to stop them and check on their travel plans are the Police or other officers designated by the Director-General of Health. Frankly, the ‘Tai Tokerau Border Control’ has as much legal power to stop traffic as the ‘Tai Tokerau Bridge Club’.”

“Democracy Action does not accept these roadblocks are only about combating the spread of COVID-19 or protecting the health of local communities. They are about usurping powers that rightfully belong to the Government and entrenching special treatment for certain groups. It is a direct challenge to the principle that all New Zealanders are equal before the law. You can be sure that if university students in Dunedin blocked off Hyde Street and stopped anyone they felt ‘looked like they did not belong’, the Police would quickly and correctly act immediately.”

“Instead, we get the Minister of Police speculating that roadblocks might be justified if they had ill-defined ‘community support’, a concept not included in the law. Police who have been firm with Kiwis breaking COVID-19 travel restrictions, even arresting the worst offenders, suddenly become by-standers when the law is being flouted by roadblocks. Rather than being moved on or arrested, Police have supported these illegal actions.”

“This is not the decisive action the country needs to restore faith in the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law. The Police Commissioner has failed, the Police Minister has failed. It is time for the Prime Minister for take the lead and uphold the rule of law,” Mr Short said.