RNZ Wellington, April 7, 2019
With heightened security measures in place and increased police presence throughout the country since the March 15, 2019 Mosque attacks, the Returned Services Association (RSA) has said it would be working with the Police to ensure public safety ahead of this year’s ANZAC Day services.
No specific threat
Police Assistant Commissioner Mike Rusbatch said there was no specific threat at Anzac Day services, but they would be providing a visible presence nationwide to reassure the public.
He said that under the firearms directives and officers would be armed, but it could be reviewed.
RSA president BJ Clark said that he supported the Police being armed on the day.
“It was “responsible action” that would make remembrance services safe for everyone. This is a public service and so, whilst we are not aware of any threat, we need to ensure that the public are kept safe,” he said.
Mr Clark said that some RSAs would combine their services to make it easier for the Police to patrol after advice from the police.
However, it would be up to each district to decide how their services would run.
Mr Clark said he was saddened to hear a Muslim prayer honouring victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks was pulled from the Porirua service due to threats by members of the public.
Mr Clark said a Muslim prayer was more likely to be included in civic services on ANZAC Day instead of dawn services.
“I think a civic service later on, where the public are more involved, is probably the appropriate occasion to acknowledge the tragic events in Christchurch,” he said.
No hatred, please
He said there would be no tolerance for hatred of any kind at this year’s services.
“There is no room for this sort of behaviour in our nation; it just makes things worse and vitriol of this kind will not be accepted by anyone.”
Mr Clark said this was not the first time protests and other unwanted behaviour had taken the attention away from ANZAC Day services, and people needed to remember what the day is about.
“This is about remembering the people that have served our country.”
He said that the number of people attending ANZAC Day commemoration services had increased in recent years and did not expect the increased security measures to impact this year’s attendance figures.
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