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Two trials and a court hearing – WOZA legal update

Masvingo:
TWENTY members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) appeared on trial before Magistrate Nyamukomba in Masvingo last Monday, charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The prosecutor, D. Charamba, appealed for a postponement with the excuse that no witnesses were willing to come forward and he needed to get advice from the area senior prosecutor before he could proceed. The magistrate refused to allow the extension and granted the defence’s application that the accused be taken off remand. The State was ordered to proceed by way of summons when it had its house in order. The Masvingo 20 were defended by Mr Shumba, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The members had been arrested on 7th March whilst launching the People’s Charter in the Masvingo provincial capital. They had been required to report to the police station weekly as part of their bail conditions and had appeared in court four times previously. Two previous trial dates had failed to take off.

Bulawayo:
WOZA National Coordinator, Jenni Williams will appear in Bulawayo Magistrates court on Monday 23rd July after being issued with a summons for an arrest during a peaceful protest in 2004. Police had summoned her on two previous occasions for the same arrest but had no docket ready on both occasions. The current summons was served on Williams when she was last in police custody on 6th June. The second appearance will be on 2nd August; again for a 2004 arrest for peaceful protest. Williams has been arrested approximately 30 times in the last five years and has spent the equivalent of two months in custody, with one arrest lasting five days.

Gweru:
In a busy week for WOZA in the courts, the 26 members arrested in Gweru for launching the People’s Charter in the Midlands capital in March, will appear on trial in Gweru Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday 24th July. They are charged under Chapter 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – ‘participating in a public gathering with the intent to cause public disorder, breach of peace or bigotry’. As these were the same charges faced by the Masvingo 20, it is hoped that a similar outcome will occur.

Members throng the goverment complex in Bulawayo – beaten and dogs deployed

AT 1030am 29 November 2013, one thousand members started 11 separate processions so that they could march to Bulawayo Mhlahlandlela Government complex to hand over a petition to the resident minister Eunice Moyo covering WOZA demands. The petition was successfully handed over to her office but pandemonium prevailed as police disturbed a peaceful protest.

The city had riot or reaction police on most street corners to prevent the start of any protests. Two out of eleven protests arrived at the entrance of Mhlahlandlela without incident but the other eight protest groups were set upon by reaction groups’ police who beat members with baton sticks. One protest was stopped and seated in the tarmac by 16 police officers and when there was not clear instruction as to if they were under arrest, member left and continued their peaceful march.

Two members have been treated for dislocated knee and grazed elbow from baton stick injuries. Over 50 other members report baton stick injuries but were treated with painkillers.

Hundreds of members managed to re- group and made their way to Mhlahlandlela determined to petition as is their right under the constitution.

One single police truck seemed to constantly pick up arrested members who were then released and others arrested making the number of arrested hard to estimate.

WOZA national coordinator, Jenni Williams who had delivered the petition to the minister’s office, then called members to regroup at the complex entrance and told members that the petition had been delivered and signed for and she then signaled that members should peacefully disperse in procession to the nearby bus terminal. After this address, Williams and Mahlangu lead members away but new group of police officers arrived with batons sticks and shields and stopped the dispersal. Police officers surrounded Williams and Mahlangu with huge shields pressed against their bodies and forced them into the police Drill hall opposite the government complex. These officers beat any members who attempted to walk in with the 2 leaders but 3 members managed to accompany their leaders.

As the leaders were being led away, police officers started to drive the hundreds of members enraged at the arrest of their leaders away from the complex down the street in the direction of the Batch Street. After several surges to come back to the Complex failed and the group was chased by police officers with dogs. The dogs were held on the leashes but the officers kept threatening to unleash them, these officers and their police dogs drove the crowd at a run for 5 kilometers towards the Mpopoma fly over. Some members were driven into the bush on either side of the roads in the Thorngrove suburb adjoining the light industrial area. These officers also said they did not want members to board commuter omnibuses, but chased them out of town saying they would regroup and resume the march. Police officers quickly manned road blocks on the Khami road to prevent the return by commuter of the members they had chased with their dogs. The Reaction Group officer in charge based at Drill Hall Inspector Mzombi issued the orders for beating and arrests and generally disrupted the peaceful protest and curtailed the right to protest now protected under the new constitution.

Police officers who remained at Mhlahlandlela chased away any woman in the vicinity, members or non- members of the Mhlahlandlela complex was then chased away but men were allowed to continue with their business undisturbed by the gender discrimination.

Meanwhile WOZA leaders Williams and Mahlangu were held for 3 hours without any explanation at the Drill Hall until they were driven to the Bulawayo Central police station and united with 12 other members who had been arrested. They remained there for another hour before Chief Inspector Musvuti the officer commanding Bulawayo released them. He flippantly advised Williams and Mahlangu and the 12 members that there was no problem and that they were free to leave. He said he did not know why they had been arrested. He offered not explanation about the violence and brutal manner in which the right to protest had been curtailed. See the Woza Moya Newsletter distributed Woza Moya November 2013

Bulawayo members to march 13Feb2015

Zimbabwe joins citizens of the world in commemorating Valentine’s Day, a day to give each other a red rose that represents LOVE. Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members, the majority of them are women and some brave men are still drawing attention to the need for LOVE in Zimbabwe.
The love WOZA members wants is LOVE that brings dignity.
Dignity will help us rebuild our lives and our country.
Dignity also comes from Zimbabweans being able to exercise and enjoy all their rights including the right to earn a living.
This year our theme is – Demanding Dignity – Demanding Women’s Empowerment!
These are the roses we want from our Government!

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members have been conducting Valentine’s Day marches since 2003 demanding LOVE from their Government and asking Zimbabweans to chose LOVE over hate. After 13 years of Valentine’s Day marches, we still need and want the same things.

While we recognise progress it is only words and no deeds to match these high and mighty words.
1. The election promise was one million jobs but lip service was not followed up by the promised jobs. Members continued to try to survive by informal trading.
2. Members thought the ZimAsset would bring jobs, but the document once again lifted our expectations only to crash them down. The very people who wrote the document are ignoring it and enriching themselves.
3. The Constitution has a good complement of the issues we wanted, including the right to earn a living and the right to protest but we are tired of hearing that they are still aligning the laws. Stop making excuses and let us enjoy our Constitution.
4. Even the latest monetary policy is full of promises for empowerment, will these promises be delivered?

WOZA has been busy conducting civic education programmes for members to ready themselves for socio-economic empowerment – we are marching now to say we are ready to receive rapid empowerment.
We have read the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe ‘Chapter 2-National objectives’, sections 13 on National development , 14 on Empowerment and employment and section 15 on Food security and Chapter 4 section 51 – right to human dignity’. We understand that the word ‘Republic’ means –
A political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them.

We – the supreme citizens – elected representatives who immediately forgot about us. They squabble amongst themselves occasionally sending nonsensical directives like introducing prepaid water meters and removal of vendors from the streets. Chombo where is the directive to create jobs? Instead you order the City council to chase vendors off the streets. Mr Chombo enough is enough with your nonsense please reread the national objectives and put Zimbabweans – women – first.

Whilst members wait for the promised jobs, they survive on informal trade which is their source of livelihood and disregarding this survival strategy will increase poverty. Members stated that through vending they are able to feed their families, educate their children, clothe them and pay rent for a decent standard of living. The solutions are clear and known – but lack implementation – the root cause of prolific informal trading is lack of employment. Directives issued that only address the effects – informal traders everywhere – will not fix the problem.

As the supreme citizens, we demand our elected leaders convene an urgent country wide consultation to map a collective way forward on how to create one million jobs and revamp the economy putting women and youth at the centre of the economic empowerment action plan.

WOZA take to the streets of Bulawayo to lodge a ‘people’s protest’ and to call on ZEC to release the results of the presidential election forthwith

Having watched and waited to see if anyone would mobilise nonviolent action and having seen none to date, around 800 members of WOZA and MOZA began their rollout of peaceful actions in Bulawayo today.

WOZA members demonstrate in Bulawayo to demand the results of the presidential election are announced immediately, 9 April 2008The group started their protest at the provincial court on Herbert Chitepo and Leopold Takawira. They processed for several blocks through the city centre to the High Court. The targeting of the High Court was to lodge a people’s protest at the delay in announcing results. The group toyi toyied at the steps of the Court singing an iSindebele traditional (Sangoma) song – ‘Yindaba enjani ehlula amadoda’ (the vote is an issue men are failing to deal with). The leaders then took time to address the crowd, demanding that the results be announced, whereupon they placed their newsletters and placards on the steps before dispersing. This was all carried out much to the bemusement of police officers and court workers who man the entrance.

Police were seen to respond several minutes later, picking up all the flyers left outside the High Court – those that hadn’t been scooped up by eager bystanders. Leaders are still ascertaining whether all those that took part in the peaceful protest have made it home safely.

The aim of the march was to add WOZA’s voice to those calling on the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) to release the true results of the presidential election. The march was also to call for an end to state-sponsored violence that is reported to be happening in rural areas in retribution.

WOZA members march with their demands, Bulawayo, 9 April 2008As they marched, the men and women handed out flyers (the text of which is included below) to the lunchtime crowd that rushed to see what was happening when they heard the singing. Such was the excitement caused by the procession that a group of 100 – 150 people followed the demonstration for the entire route, talking excitably amongst themselves, waiting to see what would happen. When the placards and flyers were left on the steps of the High Court, many people dashed forward to collect them, including several vehicles that stopped long enough for either passengers or the driver themselves to pick up the flyers. During the march, several cars were also observed to be hooting their horns and calling out support to the demonstrators.

WOZA was formed in 2003 amidst severe political violence to demonstrate love and courage to all Zimbabweans. At this time in our country, these motivations are particularly pertinent. WOZA would like to pay tribute to the brave men and women who in the face of great uncertainty and talk of repression defied the threats of a dying regime to speak out clearly and demand that their vote be respected. WOZA would also like to salute our brother and sisters in the police and army who demonstrated today that they are with the people.

WOZA has been encouraging Zimbabweans for the last few months to stand up for their children. People responded by going out to vote on 29 March. Now is the time to keep standing strong – a better future for our children is within our reach – we must just continue to demand it peacefully.

To read a copy of the newsletter, protesters were handing out, click here April 2008 Woza Moya newsletter – English/Ndebele

Sisterhood Bond – Shona

Sungano Yemadzimai (Sisterhood Bond)

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WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE – WOZA
P. O. Box FM 701, Famona, Bulawayo
By Women for Women and with Women, across Race, Colour, Creed, Class or Political Persuasion. Empowering Women to be Courageous, Caring, Committed and in Communication with their Communities.

WOZA SISTERS’
SUNGANO YEMADZIMAI

 

Zita rangu ……………………………………………………………………………………………

Ndirikuvimbisa kuti ndichabatsirana nemamwe madzimai. Tichabatana mawoko pakurwisa kuti ticherechedzeke pakudzosa Zimbabwe murunyararo, muutongo whakajeka, nebudiriro.

Apo kurwisa kuchienderera mberi ndichayeuka zvinotevera:

  1. Kutaura nokukurudzira mamwe madzimai kuti aite saizvozvo kuti inzvi remadzimai rinzvike. Madzimai aafanirwi kushupika akanyarara.
  2. Mukusanganira nevamwe tichi kurukura nezvinotishungurudza nokusimuka tichiita panekungo gununguna.
  3. Kuva munyaradzi nomuteereri kusimbisana. “Kukurukura kunotapudza shungu nenhamo”.
  4. Kuratidzira rudo no kusatya mudzimba medu nemu vavakidzani, ndichibatsira kubvisa kutya muvanhu.
  5. Madzimai, mamai eZimbabwe yose. Saka, ngaa wane chiremera.
  6. Kuva, mumiririri wezvinhu zvisina hukasha, kuratidza vanhu kuti tinogona kugadzirisa nyaya dzinotinetsa kusina vhingamupopoto.
  7. Kuva ne chido chokubatana pakunzvirana nemadzimai anepfungwa dzakafanana.
  8. Kukurudzira zviitiko zvinokururama muna mwari. Nokurarama pakumuziva.
  9. Kumiririra kuva Democratic, nekuzvininipisa mune zvakawanda, zvinobva muvanhu.
  10. “Kurwadzisiwa komumwe wedu, kurwadzisiwa kwedu tese”.

Ndinovimbisa!

Ndatsidzira : ………………………………………… Zuva: ………………………………………………

Mupupuriri : ………………………………………… Mupupuriri : ………………………………………

Copyright © 2004

400 WOZA members demonstrate in Harare today – theme: Human Rights of Women – Human Rights for All: Universal Declaration for Human Rights 60 years after

APPROXIMATELY 400 members of WOZA held a peaceful demonstration in the streets of Harare today calling for the immediate intervention of the international community to address the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The peaceful protesters marched to the offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to hand over a petition declaring the so-called government of ZANU PF incapable of dealing with the crisis and demanding that the United Nations step in immediately to resolve the crisis in order to protect the people of Zimbabwe. No arrests have been reported at the time of this release.

The protest also marks the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, which was released on 10 December 1948.

As they marched, the peaceful protesters sang a Shona song that decries the hunger facing all Zimbabweans and handed out fliers and copies of the Declaration on Human Rights, which bystanders rushed to receive. Some comments overheard from Zimbabweans reading the flyer were, ‘these women have a very good point. They are speaking the truth.’ Upon arriving at the UNDP offices, a representative attempted to enter the offices to hand over the petition, when the doors were closed. Two representatives from the UNDP came out to receive the petition however.

The group then dispersed before police arrived. A vehicle of riot police and a water cannon were seen to respond to the scene after all protesters had dispersed.

The protest started at the point where 14 members were arrested on 28 May 2008. They were denied bail and imprisoned for 6 weeks but on this occasion have walked home free.

WOZA/MOZA holds fifth Sheroes Assembly

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise conducted their fifth annual assembly at a secret location in Matabeleland South between 27th and 29th August. Over 400 delegates converged from Bulawayo, Mutare and Harare with a large contingent from rural areas. WOZA has a membership base of over 70,000 members. Congress delegates were community-based leaders elected to represent their constituencies. They gather once a year to elect their leadership management body affectionately known as ‘Mother WOZA’.

The assembly is known as ‘Sheroes’ as it honours modern-day Sheroes. It is planned annually to celebrate the courage of ordinary people doing the extraordinary at the same time as the Government of Zimbabwe talks about their ‘heroes’.

Last year’s congress could not be conducted due to the prevailing security and health situation. This year’s theme was ‘real people with real needs – demanding bread and roses.’

The aim of the Assembly was to:
·    Review WOZA’s activities during the past year.
·    Discuss and review a proposed strategic plan for the upcoming year.
·    Elect national and regional and community leaders for the coming year.
·    Launch the WOZA-authored ‘A guide to understanding the Constitution’ booklet in three languages and to prepare members for the constitutional consultation beginning in September through to the February 2010 referendum.
·    Conduct an initial consultation on the constitution-making process and obtain minimum principles as regards content of the new constitution and a review of the process so far.

Preliminary nomination processes for all leadership positions were conducted in August. Elections were then conducted at congress for positions that were unopposed.

With regard to the government-led constitutional process, members at the congress resolved to continue to observe the process as it unfolds and to remain mobilised to protest attempts to fast-track the Kariba Draft or any other unconsulted draft.

The booklet ‘A guide to understanding the Constitution’ was distributed to members and stocks are already low. The booklet is to aid people to contribute in consultations as well as to help members decide on their minimum standards and principles for a constitution. WOZA prepared the booklet to empower people with issues to debate publicly prior to the public consultations and to empower them to speak out during the consultations.

Following the consultations it was clear that members felt that the current environment is not conducive to a genuinely consultative constitutional process. Some of the key ‘wants’ those present identified as being necessary before a genuine constitutional consultation can be held are:
·    Repealing of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and free media by removing restrictions on freedom of expression;
·     Healing by design and not by presidential decree – the beginning of a genuine truth recovery and national healing process
·    Security sector reform and the resigning of current politicised police bosses.

With regard to the content of a new constitution, the ‘non-negotiable’ factors include:
·    clear separation of powers and independence of the judiciary
·    a shorter term of office for the executive and a majority age of  65 years
·    dual citizenship and protection of the right to citizenship

Members would also like to see a constitution that guarantees rights to education, health, housing and shelter, right to language and culture and caters for equality with augmented access for disadvantaged groups. It was felt that the bill of rights should include protection of the following rights: socio-economic, prisoners’, women’s, sexual orientation, property and political choice.

As members reviewed the previous year, many testimonies about the political violence were shared as well as the testimonies of members imprisoned in 2008 in Chikurubi and Mlondolozi prisons for peaceful protest against political violence.

WOZA continue to have to operate in the underground as nothing has changed as regards the security situation in the country despite promises for peace in the global political agreement. Security concerns led to the delay in releasing this statement. WOZA, a social justice movement of human rights defenders refuse to legitimise the Public Order Security Act and so conduct their meeting in secret. In fact police presence at the congress venue resulted in an early closing of proceedings to avoid unnecessary arrests.

WOZA introduced a new structure style in 2007 and this system was reviewed at congress. It has brought increased expansion at multiple levels. As a result 37 leaders, three of whom are male, were elected to represent WOZA in organised operational areas. It is unfortunate that for security reasons names must be withheld until there is genuine change in Zimbabwe.

The new leaders of WOZA/MOZA are now ready to continue their mobilization of Zimbabweans to demand social justice and look forward to continuing their mandate of peaceful protest until there is a genuine transition that will bring about a ‘livable peace’ and dignity for Zimbabweans.

WOZA and MOZA take to the streets of Bulawayo today to demand real schools with real teachers for a real education

Over 800 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise took to the streets of Bulawayo at midday today to peacefully protest about the state of education in Zimbabwe. Five groups started separately and converged on Mhlahlandlela Government complex to hand over the WOZA report on the education system in Zimbabwe entitled – Looking Back to look Forward. The report covers recommendations and a list of demands that parents want addressed by the Minister of Education, Senator David Coltart. Before they could hand over the report however, the peaceful group was dispersed by at least 12 police officers, including high-ranking officers. No arrests have been reported to date but WOZA leaders are still verifying whether everyone returned safely to their homes.

 

The theme of the protest was –‘real schools with real teachers for a real education’. Education has been a long-term mobilisation issue for WOZA. As the new school year begins, many members have reported that their children were turned away at the gates of schools yesterday on the first day of term. Reasons given include account arrears and non-payment of the US$5 required for last year’s report card. One school even turned away children for non-payment of a ‘vandalising day’, a ZAR 10 contribution.

 

Given the general unhappiness of parents at the state of education in Zimbabwe, support for the peaceful march from bystanders was high. Observers reported that many bystanders joined the group at Mhlahlandlela. One man who joined the demonstration was overheard saying that he would be prepared to be arrested because the issue of education is so close to his heart. Uniformed police officers also asked members as they were dispersing why they had stopped singing and encouraged them to continue with their songs of protest. The songs included the words, “our children are crying for education”.


Attempts to hand in the report to the Regional Director for Education were unsuccessful as apparently the position in Matabeleland has not been filled. Security guards at the gate of the government complex told the protestors to go to Harare and speak directly to the Minister of Education. Copies of the newsletter were left with the guards instead.

 

The demands included in the report include:

  • Teachers must produce quality teaching and show that they are committed to the learning of all their pupils equally.
  • Education authorities must utilise the vehicles that are being purchased to supervise teachers and demand more discipline in schools.
  • Teachers must stop demanding top-ups from parents and the Ministry must prohibit this practice.
  • The Ministry must work to produce a new and relevant curriculum as recommended.
  • Parents will do their best to pay reasonable fees set by Ministry and levies set by properly constituted and democratic parents meetings at the beginning of each year – we will not accept any fee or levy changes in 2010.

The full education report and the text of the newsletter can be found below.

1,000 WOZA and MOZA members hand over yellow cards to ZESA in Bulawayo today

AT noon today, 12th April 2010, approximately 1,000 members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise marched to the offices of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) offices in Bulawayo. Their aim was to deliver yellow cards to the electricity service provider for poor service and high tariffs. No arrests have been reported to date.

Four simultaneous protests converged on the Lobengula Street offices but officials quickly closed the gates and locked the doors, refusing to come out to receive the ‘yellow card’. The peaceful protests were mobilised after members decided they needed to put direct pressure on ZESA to provide a more efficient service and fair and affordable billing system.

The issue of ZESA needing a telling-off seemed to have wide support and both vendors and bystanders joined in the protest. The protestors sang a popular song: ZESA – into oyenzayo siyizonda (ZESA we hate this thing you are doing). Police officers who responded on foot and by vehicle were heard to support the protest through direct comments to WOZA members. One police officer said to a member, “you are back from telling ZESA off? Well done keep it up.”

As the peaceful group tried to persuade ZESA officials to come out and received the yellow cards, business activities in the ZESA building and at the police headquarters opposite came to a halt, with staff seen peering over the walls and out of windows supporting the protest. A ZESA employee was overheard saying, “maybe we will get paid on time now because of this pressure.”

WOZA leaders knocked at the door to the offices for over 15 minutes trying to get the ZESA officials to come and receive the ‘yellow cards’. People dressed up as ‘bosses’ were seen converging at the reception giving instructions to the receptionist and also trying to call on their mobile phones. They refused to come to the door to receive the ‘yellow cards’, but once these were posted under the door, they quickly came to collect them. The thousand-strong procession then dispersed, walking calmly past the police vehicle, which was parking to monitor the protest. 11 police officers just stood and watched. After the crowd had dispersed a ZESA employee came out and started to kick the placards onto the street but a police officer told him to stop and pick them up nicely. The same vehicle was then seen driving around town for 30 minutes monitoring the dispersing of members, including the tailing of WOZA leaders, Williams and Mahlangu.

The ‘yellow card’ for ZESA comes with a warning to shape up their service during the month of May or face a ZERO service ZERO bill boycott of payments from 1st June 2010. Members using fixed meters advised ZESA that the current service only deserved a US$5 payment rather than the current level of payment calculated for a full service.

Along with the warning members are only willing to pay US$15 for 24 hours 7 days a week service. Consumers are aware of an ongoing consultative process to look at tariffs. This process is at the public hearing stage hosted by the parliament appointed Competition and Tariff Commission.  The card serves as a months notice to shape up or face ‘suspension’.

WOZA is a community based social movement of 70,000 members countrywide and as such have capacity to mobilise a boycott.

To read a copy of the WOZA ‘yellow card’, click here: ZESA yellow card

For a full copy of WOZA’s report on electricity services in Zimbabwe, click here: WOZA report on ZESA – April 2010

83 members released on free bail – Jenni Williams arrested outside Harare Magistrate’s Court

Some of the 83 members who were arrested on Monday

Some of the 83 members who were arrested on Monday

The 83 members arrested on Monday for a peaceful protest about community safety appeared in Harare Magistrate’s Court this morning charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 46, as read with Section 2(v) of the Third Schedule to the Criminal Code – ‘criminal nuisance’. It transpires that police decided to go with these charges instead of obstructing traffic. They were granted free bail and remanded out of custody to 6 October.

The state had tried to get bail set at US $ 50 each and for each of the 83 to report to Harare Central Police Station every Friday but the magistrate refused these conditions, saying that they were too severe for the nature of the charges.

Having been dismissed from court, WOZA leaders were speaking to the group across the road from court, trying to ascertain which of the recently released members needed medical attention when police officers insisted that Jenni Williams, WOZA’s National Coordinator, accompany them to the police post inside Harare Magistrate’s Court for addressing the group. They accused her of ‘addressing a gathering’ and tried to get her to sign a caution admitting that she had addressed a gathering at court. When she attempted to explain that she was merely attempting to provide assistance to those that had been recently released, Inspector Majuru insisted that she be placed under arrest and taken to Law and Order at Harare Central. She is currently being held at Harare Magistrate’s Court until police can provide transport to Harare Central.

WOZA condemns this harassment of its members by police.