Police break up student protest

Students say some of their number had clothes ripped as they were dragged away by police, during the latest protest in central Auckland over tertiary education cuts.

Forty-three arrests have been made after an estimated 300 protestors turned out this afternoon to block Symonds St outside Auckland University in a follow-up to the "Blockade the Budget' rally on May 24.

However, students were beaten to the 3pm scheduled start by about 40 yellow-vested police officers who attempted to shift the protest to the side of the road.

Protestor Genevieve Connell said students had planned a peaceful 'teach in' but police officers jostled them, pulled students off the road and twisted their arms.

She said she had seen one girl with her tights ripped and a number of people had been hurt.

"It's pretty shocking.''

Another student said her brother had been dragged across the road, with his head on the ``concrete''.

"There's been nothing but peace from us and nothing but contempt from them,'' said a Ph.D student and tutor who did not want to be identified.

Senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Campbell Jones, said police had hit and dragged a number of students.

Mr Jones delivered a lecture at the protest, reading Plato to the students just before police broke up the crowd.

"What they're protesting today is a disgraceful political decision.

"The elite will have education and others won't,'' he said.

Another protestor said the forceful police action was unwarranted.

It had escalated the situation and strengthened the protester's resolve, he said. "This is not containment anymore.''

Protestors then broke through a police cordon and headed through Albert Park towards Queen St. Around 200 students sat down across the intersection of Queen and Victoria Sts chanting "John Key's a millionaire, that's why he doesn't care.''

Traffic came to a standstill with cars and buses honking their horns at the students to move.

One driver nudged his car out into the crowd at the intersection yelling "stupid socialists, dumb communists'' at the students.

He told them "I've got a ****ing living to make, I had to pay fees too and now I have to work to pay them off.''

A student yelled back at him: "This is what facisim looks like!''

Bystander Justin, who witnessed the altercation, said "There are ways to be political and blocking other people is not one of them.

"The whole ideology infuriates me, even though they've got some valid points, their ideology is flawed.

"Anything that doesn't inconvenience other people would be better, they're disguising their selfish naievity as noble.''

Students then marched to the Auckland Central Police Station to demand the release of their peers.

Superintendent Mike Clement said there had been 43 arrests so far.

A police northern communications spokesman said "We're managing it''.

- By Cassandra Mason of APNZ

Add a Comment