Yesterday afternoon. 26th January.
Bail conditions set by the Police include to not enter the 'four avenues' a mile square of the central city region (coincidentally the boundary of the city alcohol free zone).
"I guess it can be designated the 'speech free zone' too now."
From a broader perspective, the arrest of this former mayoral and parliamentary candidate has grave implications for freedom of assembly and bill of rights 'freedom of speech'. Especially as Mayor Bob Parker has the ground covered with surveillance cameras.
Parker called for and invested millions into 'anti-crime' post his election as Mayor. Some may recall him saying after he had accompanied "Police" one Saturday evening during his campaign that cameras had proven themselves, as two law breakers were charged with criminal offences (thus his justifying spending even more). He said it was for catching 'criminal offenders', that law abiding people had nothing to fear at the 'Christchurch Press' sponsored 'Town Hall' debates.
Some may also recall the MildGreen Mayoral candidate leaning forward to the microphone and reminding him and the audience "it was cannabis Bob!".
"It was purported by the Police arresting Officer he didn't have an issue with my subject matter, rather that my soapboxing was driving people away from enjoying their lunches (his words). It seemed to escape him that it was after three thirty in the afternoon!."
"It should be ironic that my voice, unaided by electronics or any other assistance, is sufficient to disturb the peace in the inner city when it is difficult to be heard over the traffic and ambient 'speakers' blaring from atop city business houses, or that in the preceding hour there had been a street performance act courtesy of city council provided sound reinforcement - part of of the "International Buskers Festival Week".
"Of course he never spoke to anyone having their lunch, but he was seen to confer with someone who was a city council employee (or contractor) who seems is the 'complainant' or person who was offended no doubt eager to protect city event sponsors interests, especially those of Lindauer, Christchurch Casino, Heritage Hotel, Millennium Hotel, Copthorne Hotel, and of course the pokie (gambling addictions) revenues of Pub Charity, Lion Foundation, Mainland Foundation, Southern Trust and finally, the Embassy of the United States of America.
"Prior to any of this, I had informally approached the designated person in charge to determine if they, the busking event had well and truly concluded their days activities as I had no desire to stand on any ones toes. He had respected that I had asked and said 'go ahead'. So that cannot have been an issue. Well not one 'a reasonable person' could anticipate in a public designated gathering space evidently suited for performance art, and adjacent too be railway line construction zone. So it cannot have been the noise."
"One of the last matters I raised with the assembled crowd before my arrest was the New Years gong given to that drug baron, Doug Meyers.... " notes the long time contributor to parliamentary due process. "Members of the public approached and shook my hand, you don't see that online, in the paper or on TV!"
With this kind of 'chilling effect' on the public discourse, is it no longer possible to speak publicly about drug policy in the four avenues "at least until a Judge gives me permission" ?
Anderson has argued for a year that media have sidelined any mention that New Zealand legally regulated psychoactive recreational drug use 'when John Key became Prime Minister' but alcohol policy and neighbouring intoxicants is off the menu along with any right to speak about it in public. Not even the Hon. Jim Anderton under whose watch this regulatory initiative was passed has been asked 'for what purpose did Labour do this "Order in Council' if it was only to remain an empty vessel?'.
"I was speaking as close as practicable to the now defunct but contentiously removed city plan designated 'amphitheatre' area of Cashel and High Streets (also known, some could argue pejoratively, as the 'hack circle') - of course the important role of an amphitheatre 'as a place for speaking' can be best encapsulated by simply Googling it along with the word 'democracy'."
These are interesting times.
The case is set down for the Christchurch District court on the fourth day of February.
The writer is somewhat flummoxed, the Court Building is inside the area to which he has been 'prohibited'.
"As is my lawyer, several of my Members of Parliament, and the Human Rights Commission."
"I have diarised meetings with key stakeholders, including Canterbury District Health Board and ALAC to discuss http://www.safercampuses.org/
but they are all in the Four Avenues - I guess I will just have to break the law again, sometime soon". (see PRESS: University forum targets binge-drinking 23/01/2010)
The writer will be pleading 'not guilty' arguing false arrest, there is no charge to answer. "Clogging the court has become the last bastion of civil dissent, this silliness is going to cost the country thousands. They better do that drug policy cost benefit analysis soon and fix this glaring anomaly."
The writer further notes... a Bill of Rights violation has occurred and the Christchurch City Council will be asked to account.
"Now that is what courts are for...."
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
Social Ecologist 'at large, but still living in unhealthy Christchurch'