Masked men storm election meeting

Labour's candidate for Christchurch Central says a protest by a militant group at a public election meeting in the city last night was "pathetic" and "designed to intimidate".

However, one of the men involved in the demonstration says no one in the crowd of around 60 appeared threatened by the group.

Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns said the meeting, which included candidates from National, the Conservatives, the Greens and an independent, was about halfway through when members of the Right Wing Resistance entered the Worcester St meeting.

The group has recently been active distrubting pamphlets in Oamaru and claims to have a North Otago branch.

"Out of nowhere a group of about 12 or 15 people dressed in balaclavas and scarves across their faces, combat fatigues, heavy boots walked into the meeting.

"The only person who wasn't masked was Kyle Chapman, the former leader of the National Front, he was carrying a small portable megaphone. He then attempted to give a speech about how politicians weren't serving New Zealand and something to the effect that the revolution was coming."

Mr Burns said he and the other politicians told the group to leave, but one of the "henchmen turned his back on my and shielded Mr Chapman from anything I was attempting to say".

"After about two to three minutes they turned around and marched back out again."

He said it had been a "very civil" election meeting up until that point, and the demonstration came as a shock to many in the audience, particularly older people.

"It was pretty scary for some people for the time that they were there. It was pathetic and I think that is was designed to intimidate."

Mr Chapman disputed that people were threatened.

"The older people in that meeting were getting quite boisterous towards us, in fact there was some of them that were heckling us. I don't remember seeing anyone that was openly scared.

Mr Chapman said it was necessary for the group to be wearing fatigues and balaclavas, otherwise the media would not be interested in the demonstration.

He said the aim of the action was to publicise issues the ground want to be addressed.

"The only way we could do that was to do a publicity stunt that would get media attention.

"The rising poverty in New Zealand and the suffering population amongst the lower class is going to create a situation in the future that is not going to be pretty for New Zealand.

We just want to wake up the Government who are obviously too stuck in their own high salaries to realise that other people in this country are suffering. So it is time that somebody told them."

Mr Chapman said last night's demonstration was the first by the group ahead of Saturday's election, but there would be more in the future.

 

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