Protest does not equal disruption

Stuff reports:

Peace action protesters are attacking planned security measures around the Defence Forum in Palmerston North at the end of October as a violation of their rights.

Peace Action Wellington spokeswoman Ellie Clayton said the security plans were disproportionate, giving priority to those attending what Peace Action called a weapons expo over legitimate rights of protest.

In particular, they objected to a road block planned near the Central Energy Trust Arena as a clear attempt to interrupt a protest march.

Peace Action’s website encourages protesters to get involved with attempts to “disrupt” the forum.

There is a fundamental difference between protest and disruption. The right to protest is free speech and should be defended.

But a subset of are not there to get their message across, but to prevent other people from exercising their rights to free assembly and free speech. The aim, as Peace Action has said on their website, is to disrupt.

There is no right to disrupt. You don’t have the right to go into a library and use a loudhailer disrupting those who study. You don’t have the right to break into a conference centre and disrupt a conference. You don’t have a right to block an entranceway so people can’t enter somewhere.

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