Extremist participant in parliamentary occupation arrested after standoff in Te Puke

Richard Sivell has repeatedly demanded the execution of contributors to New Zealand’s Covid-19 response, including the Prime Minister.

Warning: This piece contains language that uses violent imagery

One of the loudest participants in the parliamentary occupation, who has repeatedly made online calls for the execution of senior politicians and others involved in the Covid-19 response, was arrested this morning to an address in Te Puke and taken to a local police station. It’s unclear what charges, if any, Richard Sivell will face, but in keeping with the drama that surrounds much of the disinformation field, parts of the incident were captured by Sivell’s supporters in audio and video clips posted on social media. At least six police officers were on the scene this morning, some of them visibly armed.

News of Sivell’s arrest was shared online by Brad Flutey, who was stopped during the occupation of Wellington and appeared to Whangārei District Court last week on charges following an altercation with police outside a local bottle shop in January. Flutey released audio of a phone conversation with Sivell, during which the arrest took place.

Sivell said he believed police were taking action following his online statements. “They’re going to put all this effort against me just because I have an opinion. I haven’t broken any laws. I haven’t hurt anyone,” he said. He had been “persecuted”, he said, “because I have a strong voice and an opinion”. Sivell said he did not own the property he was staying at, but had claimed “allodial title” – an arcane concept invoked by followers of the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement.

Asked by Flutey why armed police might be on the property, Sivell replied, “Because I probably have a goddamn air rifle and a machete,” but pointed out that they weren’t. not for violent purposes. An outburst of screaming and dog barking followed, with what appeared to be a police officer urging, “get down, get down”. Flutey said Sivell’s arrest was part “of a business going to war with you.”

A video posted by one of Sivell’s supporters showed him being led off the property in handcuffs. “You are witnessing the death of free speech in New Zealand, just so you know,” she said.

Another of Sivell’s supporters posted a video in which he went to the Tauranga police station shortly after the arrest. After receiving confirmation that Sivell was being held there, the supporter provided contact details for Sue Grey, who he said would act as Sivell’s attorney. Gray, who is the leader of the Outdoor Party and as a lawyer, has represented anti-vaccine groups, and repeatedly addressed crowds on the grounds of Parliament during the occupation, said told the Spinoff on Tuesday night: “I’ve been in court all day in another case and have no instructions on this arrest, at least at this stage.

Sivell was a regular presence during the occupation of parliament which ended on March 2. Among the many audio messages he posted on an online channel with more than 3,000 members was: “As far as I’m concerned, we should hang this government for treason. In another, he said: ‘We already know these people are fucking guilty. It’s time to build gallows and hang them… I want to put them on right now. He also called on the military “to attack the fucking hive”.

Sivell denounced protest participants who “did not want to enter the devil’s den.” They were, he said, “bench-heaters” who “don’t want to do the dirty work, don’t want to fight, they just want to watch with interest, because they’re weak, they’re pitiful, they’re disgusting they’re cowards, they have limp wrists, they’re fags He was one, he said, of the “brave alpha females and brave alpha males” whose “genetics will live on”.

Sivell advocated “breaking the necks” of senior “demonic” politicians for “crimes against humanity, for genocide, for treason and for violating the Nuremberg Code”. He said: “All mainstream media in New Zealand are basically government propaganda agents… They are very culpable. They should also be suspended. Other posts include claiming the lie that ‘the whole Covid narrative is bullshit’, allegations of ‘sonic weapons’ being fired on Parliament grounds in mid-February, homophobic rants and talk on methods of destroying cell phone towers.

In 2020, the police decided not to file a complaint against Sivell for a racist flyer targeting a local German-born politician, choosing instead to issue a warning letter.

Police did not respond to a request for comment.

This story has been updated to include a response from Sue Gray

Michael A. Bynum