NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
16th April, 1932 : At least 200 people were injured last night and early this morning as growing discontent at unemployment boiled over into a wave of riots in Auckland. Shops were damaged and looted, and the Town Hall attacked. As the mob surged through the streets, police wielding batons repeatedly charged into it, but could do little more to curb its frenzied progress. Alderman Huchison, the Lord Mayor, appealed for volunteers to join the police in maintaining order, and army and navy units have also been called in. All public meetings in the city have been banned. After the Lord Mayor’s appeal had been broadcast, hundreds of men carrying batons arrived at police stations to be sworn in as special constables. The armed forces men are equipped with guns and ammunition. Many looked on as the rioters smashed in shop windows and took whatever they could get their hands on. A man cried out after shattering the glass of one shop front, “Come on girls, help yourselves”, upon which respectably dressed women dashed forward, eager for plunder.
The Herald described the riots as the “most appalling demonstration of brutal savagery Auckland has ever experienced”, and the New Zealand Government expressed its dismay at the events. Labour leaders, however, said the riot and similar disturbances in Dunedin were a result of Government policies.
[Echoes of things to come.]