21 Feb 2022

Faeces thrown at police at Parliament protest

From Checkpoint, 5:07 pm on 21 February 2022

Tensions boiled over outside Parliament this evening between protesters and police.

RNZ saw one man resisting arrest while being forced into a police van, while a woman tried to wrestle him back from police. 

When the woman was pushed back by police she then threw a bottle of water at officers, which led to a rustle between protesters and police. 

Fireworks were then let off by protesters in the crowd. 

Watch: tensions were rising from about 7.30pm:

In a statement police said the actions of some at the Parliament occupation show "genuine protesters are no longer in control of the behaviour" at the precinct. 

Poo was pelted at officers during an early morning operation today to contain the protest at Parliament.

The 3.30am operation caught the occupiers off-guard with attempts to thwart the plan, resulting in eight arrests - seven for disorderly behaviour and one for obstruction.

About 300 police staff worked to install concrete barriers at key roads around the perimeter of Parliament, which are designed to let protesters' cars out, but not back in.

A note issued by the various groups protesting stated they were disappointed the operation was carried out covertly, adding it was counterproductive to maintaining positive relations with police.

But Mayor Andy Foster said it was the best time to do it.

"Pretty much any time of the day is going to have a disruptive effect on the city, obviously from the point of view of being able to get [the blocks] in there while people are asleep in the protest camp - obviously that gives an advantage operationally.

"But it's also less inconvenient to the city."

Local businesses continue to feel the impact, with many along Molesworth Street, and nearby Parliament closed or operating on reduced hours.

Word of Mouth Cafe and Catering owner Irene said she had stayed open the past two weeks just to keep the money coming in for her staff, but she was not sure she could make it through a third week.

"Today is really bad, we couldn't get our bread delivered on time because they can't access in this area.

"So in the morning I hesitate whether I can open or not ... it seems like we're the only cafe open."

She said the catering business had completely dropped away with nearby government departments who usually placed orders with them, mostly staffed from home.

The PSA union, which represents public servants supports staff being able to work from home, however national secretary Kerry Davies said some departments were not making it easy for workers.

"While the majority of employers have been supportive of staff working from home, there are some who have not been agreeable. We are formally raising our concerns with those CEOs and asking the employer to change their position in the interests of health and safety of our members.

"People should be free to move to and from work unimpeded and without fear of abuse, harassment or intimidation."

A request to interview any of the organisers on this morning's police operation was declined.

To media specifically, the group said journalists should not enter Parliament grounds without an approved escort, for their own safety.

"Some of the protesters are now very agitated. While we do not wish in any way to make media feel unwelcome, it is our strong recommendation that any media visiting site today take up our offer of having a media liaison person escort them. As those of you who have visited the site previously will know, 95 percent plus of people present on site are mainstream New Zealanders demonstrating in an entirely peaceful manner.

"However, we cannot dictate the behaviour of everyone present. The vast majority of people here are highly aggrieved that they've lost their jobs, have vaccine-injured family members, and their children are very upset about what's happening to them at school. While they keep their feelings in check on a day-to-day basis, it is not unnatural for them to react in ways that they might not normally do. Please give deep consideration to this."

Police said they would continue to investigate the unlawful actions of some of the protesters this morning, inviting anyone with information about who is responsible to come forward.

Two of those arrested would not give their details to authorities, and remained in custody.