Video of former Green Party candidate and climate change activist Luke Wijohn of a confrontation with police where he was threatened with arrest while out for a walk. Video / Luke Wijohn
Former Green Party candidate and climate change activist Luke Wijohn filmed police threatening him with arrest after encountering a group of officers pinning a man to the ground in Wellington.
Wijohn was going to pick up his girlfriend at work from the supermarket on Friday night when he heard a man screaming in pain, he said on Twitter on Saturday morning.
The first video posted by Wijohn showed a group of seven police officers, two of whom pinning a man face down.
“I kept my distance (in fact, I kept asking the cops to socialize with me). I was wearing a mask,” her post said.
A man’s voice can be heard many times saying, “Take the fuck out of me.”
At this point in the video, officers noticed they were being filmed. Three approached the camera at a certain speed and requested Wijohn’s personal information “under the health law”.
Wijohn moves back 10 to 20 meters as the officers advance towards him.
In a second video, a policeman was heard asking him why he was out, told him to go home and “If you don’t follow the instructions you will be arrested.”
“You were getting a video which is not an essential thing to do,” said a female officer.
“You must provide us with your contact details. As soon as you give us your details, we will let you on our way.”
Another male officer then said as he stepped forward again, “At this point, comrade, I’m warning you for obstruction, okay. At this point, you are preventing us from doing our job and enforcing the Covid lockdown. So you have to give me your details. “
Wijohn then said, “I’m going for my daily legal walk to pick up my girlfriend because she just finished being an essential services worker and I don’t want her to come home at 10pm.
“I’m going for a walk, I only took one walk today.”
After explaining himself in more detail, Wijohn said, “I just heard someone screaming so I walked over and it looked like someone was on their neck, so …”
Wellington District Police Inspector Wade Jennings said the incident occurred while responding to a report at around 10 p.m. on Friday that a man kicked and punched vehicles parked near Wakefield St in central Wellington.
“During the incident, police noted that a member of the public stopped to film the arrest,” Jennings said.
“With Alert Level 4 restrictions in place, police personnel questioned the member of the public about his actions to determine if his movements were essential, including a request for his identifying details.”
Wijohn’s messages and two videos of the incident were deleted late in the afternoon.
“I decided to film because I thought it reduced the chances of them seriously injuring the man,” Wijohn said in a subsequent tweet.
He said that in his opinion it appeared that the police were using the health law to prevent him from exercising his right to film, even though he was following Alert Level 4 rules.
“It’s really … worrying that the police seem to be capitalizing on Covid laws to prevent people from exercising their rights. That trust is eroding.”
Jennings confirmed that a member of the public filmed the arrest of a man in central Wellington at 10 p.m. Friday night.
Police located and first spoke to the man on Wakefield Street before he fled towards Cable Street. At that time, police also identified that he was in breach of the court-ordered bail conditions, ”Jennings said.
“The police followed the man who stopped near Waitangi Park, then allegedly turned to the police and threatened to assault them.”
Jennings said police arrested a man for disorderly behavior, who then allegedly assaulted a police officer during the arrest. The 29-year-old was charged today in Wellington District Court.
“As these cases are in court, the police have no further comments on them.”
Jennings added in response to officers’ response to the Wijohn shoot that: “The Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 allows the police, as enforcement officers, to order a person to provide credentials. “
Wijohn did not respond to questions from the Herald. The 19-year-old ran as the Green Party candidate for Mt Albert in the 2020 general election and was the organizer of the Strike 4 Climate school marches as a teenager.
Her Twitter post contained hundreds of comments and retweets before it was deleted, many of which were favorable.