An 18-year-old student resists police.
Three students were arrested yesterday when Dunedin
police swooped on a pro-marijuana stall on the University of
The men face charges ranging from resisting arrest to
disorderly behaviour after supporters mobbed police
attempting to arrest Abe Gray (26), the leader of the Otago
chapter of the National Organisation for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws (Norml).
Green MP Metiria Turei, who was on campus and arrived at the
scene towards the end of the incident, said the police
response was over the top.
Senior Sergeant Mel Aitken said police acted on information
from officers at the scene that Gray was smoking marijuana at
a Norml stall at a market day on the university's union lawn.
Police also received a complaint from the university
When Gray was arrested on a charge of obstruction under the
Misuse of Drugs Act, he called out for help and about 40
people began jostling and yelling at the officers.
Gray, who gave his name to the Otago Daily Times, was
later charged with resisting arrest, possessing cannabis,
possessing utensils for smoking cannabis and obstruction.
A second man, a 24-year-old student, was arrested after he
allegedly tried to free Gray and then ran over the roof of a
He was later charged with obstruction, resisting police and
An 18-year-old student, who allegedly refused to move after
sitting down in front of a police car, was arrested and later
charged with obstruction, resisting police and possessing a
All three were bailed last night to appear in the Dunedin
District Court next week.
University chief operating officer John Patrick confirmed two
complaints had been received by the proctor's office from
members of the public about people at the stall smoking
The complaints were referred to police.
Further comment was "inappropriate" as the matter was in
police hands, he said.
Snr Sgt Aitken said if Gray had not called out to his
friends, the situation would have remained "nice and calm",
as the police had intended.
"Let's say we are fairly disappointed with their behaviour."
Up to seven police cars had attended the scene because of the
potential for a mob situation, she said.
One witness said police officers dressed as university
students had been hanging around the stall.
Ms Turei criticised police priorities.
"This was a phenomenal waste of police time. It is shocking
behaviour for police just at a time when confidence in police
is at an all-time low."
While she had only arrived on the scene in "the last few
minutes", she said Gray's treatment by police was "serious
"It looks very much like they are picking off young men who
are running a political campaign."
Another witness said the officers had not appeared
heavy-handed in their treatment of those being arrested.