20 arrested in Auckland Occupy raid

About 20 people have been arrested this morning during a council operation to evict the last of Occupy Auckland protesters in the city's Aotea Square.

Up to 60 police officers and scores of security staff arrived at the site around 7am, with at least six police wagons and two removal trucks.

Most of the dozen or so protesters who had been left in the square had decided to pack up voluntarily.

Police have now torn down all the tents and only a handful of protesters remain. A couple of the tents had to be pulled away by officers with occupants still inside.

The protesters had sneaked back on to the site on Tuesday after evictions on Monday.

Police acting area commander Mike McIlraith said the operation this morning had gone very well.

While many arrests were made, he could not say whether they were any of the same people arrested earlier in the week.

"We have about 60 officers dedicated to the operation but not all of them have been deployed.''

Protester Penny Bright, who was one of the last to be arrested, shouted "Where is Len Brown?''

"How about restoring democracy, never mind the grass.''

Occupy Auckland member Chris Glen was at the site again this morning after having been arrested during police action earlier in the week.

He said the council's actions over the past 48 hours had been "absolutely deplorable'', with belongings and even medication being confiscated without any legal justification.

"This has to go to the court system. It's very important that we do get a legal standpoint from the courts and not just rely on council making up their own law, and enforcing their own law with private security,'' he said.

As protesters were arrested, supporters standing on the outside of a security fence cried "police brutality''. However, many bystanders were not so supportive, calling for the protesters to move on.

Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay said the protesters were asked at 7am to voluntarily pack up their gear and had been given half an hour to leave. They were also offered help to pack up and store the gear.

"We are not removing the people, we are removing the physical equipment and structures, the tents, and we are using our bylaws to do that.''

"I think it has gone really well, I think the protesters have been well behaved and cooperative, and the police and our security staff have done a very good job.

Mr McKay said legal action could still be taken in the future to ensure they don't set up camp again.

"We are dealing with quite a intransigent group, a small group that just want to hold out, the people of Auckland have had a gut's full, and our position is we have to have all of our options at our disposal and that's what we are doing.''

Next month the council is going to seek arrest warrants for people who continued to occupy the site after the district court order.

"I hope now they see our determination to ensure that the parks are freed up for use by all of Auckland, not just a small band of last remaining protesters.''

- Paul Harper of nzherald.co.nz

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter