1300 march against stadium

Anti-stadium demonstrators make their way way down George St today. Photo by Peter McIntosh
Anti-stadium demonstrators make their way way down George St today. Photo by Peter McIntosh
Stop the Stadium protesters nailed a list of demands to the front door of Dunedin's Municipal Chambers at the conclusion of a large anti-stadium march through the city streets today.

The defiant act was the work of anti-stadium protester Dave Witherow, and came at the end of a protest that saw up to 1300 people chanting as they marched along George St to attend a rally in the Octagon.

The written declaration nailed to the door by Mr Witherow threatened Stop the Stadium's planned rates revolt, beginning on February 10, unless the Dunedin City Council pulled its support for the "scandalous" $188 million stadium project.

Earlier, about 900 people set off from Dunedin's Dental School, on Great King St, at midday, but the numbers swelled to about 1300 by the time the march reached the Octagon, according to an Otago Daily Times count.

Police escorting the procession estimated the number of marchers at up to 1000. Stop the Stadium officials said the march started with 1100 people and numbers grew by their count to 1500.

Protesters of all ages - but many of them older residents - joined the march, with a pipe band and protest leaders carrying a large "Stop the Stadium" banner at the front.

Following along behind was a sea of colourful signs, including a large white elephant mounted on a van and several smaller versions on poles.

One banner read: "This is the biggest swindle of ratepayers money that Dunedin has ever known".

Another simply said: "No".

The procession was met with applause and some heckling as it made its way down the city's main street.

Addressing the crowd that gathered in the Octagon, Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler said the march "sent a clear signal to our local councillors to end this stadium now".

"The debate has ended. It's now decision time, and the decision is clear to the people - no, no, no to the stadium," she said.

Speaking to the ODT afterwards, Ms Butler said she did not yet know the size of the crowd, but believed the "good turnout" was larger than the 600-1000 that marched against the stadium project in August last year.

Police were generally happy with the crowd's behaviour, but arrested two men - a 25-year-old accused of offensive behaviour and a 27-year-old accused of offensive language - after the pair unfurled a large banner containing foul language directed at Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry.

The pair were expected to appear in the Dunedin District Court later this week, Senior Sergeant Bruce Ross said.


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