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A grab from video of the police operation near Te Puke.
A grab from video of the police operation near Te Puke.

SocietyMarch 29, 2022

Extremist participant in parliamentary occupation arrested after standoff in Te Puke

A grab from video of the police operation near Te Puke.
A grab from video of the police operation near Te Puke.

Richard Sivell has made repeated demands for the execution of contributors to the New Zealand Covid-19 response, including the prime minister.

Warning: This piece contains language that uses violent imagery

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

The news of Sivell’s arrest was shared online by Brad Flutey, who was arrested during the Wellington occupation and appeared at the Whangārei District Court last week on charges that followed an altercation with police outside a local bottle shop in January. Flutey posted the audio of a telephone conversation with Sivell, during which the arrest took place.

Sivell said he believed the police were taking action over his online statements. “They’re going to all this effort against me just because I have an opinion. I haven’t broken any law. I haven’t hurt anyone,” he said. He had been “persecuted”, he stated, “because I have a loud voice and an opinion”. Sivell said he did not own the property at which he was staying, 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 at the property, Sivell said: “Because I’ve got a fucking air rifle and a machete probably,” but stressed they were not for any violent purpose. A burst of shouting and dogs barking followed, with what appeared to be a police officer urging, “lie down, lie down”. Flutey said Sivell’s arrest was part of “a corporation waging war with you”.

A video posted by one of Sivell’s supporters showed him being led from the property in handcuffs. “You guys 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 visited the Tauranga police station shortly after the arrest. Having received confirmation Sivell was being held there, the supporter provided contact details for Sue Grey, whom he said would be acting as Sivell’s lawyer. Grey, who is the leader of the Outdoors Party and as a lawyer has represented anti-vaccine groups, as well as repeatedly addressing the crowds at parliament grounds over the course of the occupation, told the Spinoff on Tuesday night: “I’ve been in court all day in another matter and don’t have any instructions on this arrest, at least at this stage.” 

Sivell was a regular presence at the occupation of parliament that came to an end on March 2. Among the numerous audio messages he posted in an online channel with more than 3,000 members were: “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. Time to build some gallows and fucking hang them … I want to string them up straight away.” He also called on the military “to raid the fucking Beehive”.

Sivell denounced participants in the protest who didn’t “want to walk into the den of the devil”. They were, he said, “pew warmers” who “don’t want to do the dirty work, don’t want to fight, they just want to look on in interest, because they’re weak they’re pitiful they’re disgusting they’re cowardly, they’re limp-wristed, they’re faggots.” He was among, he said, the “brave alpha females and brave alpha males” whose “genetics will live on”.

Sivell has advocated “snapping the neck” of “demonic” senior politicians for “crimes against humanity, for genocide, for treason and for violation of the Nuremberg code”. He has said: “All the mainstream media in New Zealand is basically government propaganda agents … They are very culpable. They need to hang, too.” Other messages include asserting the falsehood that “the whole Covid narrative is bullshit”, claims of “sonic weapons” being fired through the parliament grounds in mid-February, homophobic diatribes, and discussing methods for destroying cellphone towers.

In 2020, police decided not to press charges against Sivell over a racist flyer targeting a German-born local politician, instead opting to issue a warning letter. 

Police have not responded to a request for comment. 

This story was updated to include a response from Sue Grey

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