Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Police warn protestors – don’t come to Wellington

Wellington Police have issued a warning to people considering travelling to Wellington this weekend to join unlawful protest action and it’s a simple one – Don’t.

NZ Police Assistant Commissioner, Richard Chambers said while the vast majority of Wellington was open for business and functioning relatively normally, the protest activity around Parliament grounds was unwelcome and having an unreasonably negative impact on residents, workers and students.

“We have made substantial progress over the last week to contain and restrict the movement of vehicles. Around 300 vehicles now remain inside the enclosed protest area after a significant number of protesters packed up and left this week,” he said.

Parliament grounds remain closed to the public.

“Movements to shrink the protest footprint will continue in the coming days as our focus remains on returning the city back to normal as quickly as possible,” Asst Commissioner Chambers said.

Concrete bollards were installed around the protest area perimeter this week, and while no vehicles are being allowed in, Police are allowing essential supplies such as food and sanitation to be collected from the perimeter.

Police are not allowing any vehicles, tents, or other equipment to enter the cordon. Illegally parked vehicles outside the cordoned area can still expect to be towed.

With the departure of an increasing number of people from the site this week, Police say they are increasingly concerned that the key protest organisers no longer have full control over some of the groups present who have been engaging in intimidation of the public and violence towards police staff.

“The protest must end soon and safely. Parties are engaged in dialogue that I believe can result in a peaceful resolution,” said Wellington Mayor, Andy Foster.

“I want to thank the Police Commissioner and the police for the way they are dealing with this protest – methodically, professionally, with admirable restraint and dignity.

“There is no doubt our police force is one of, if not the best, in the world and they will ensure Wellingtonians are once again able to freely walk our streets in safety.”

Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grant Guilford says a huge amount of work is having to take place at the University to accommodate students, staff and events affected by the closure and to ensure learning, teaching and other activities can resume as normal next week.

He said the protest was also having multiple other impacts on the University community, including affecting students and staff who travel into the city by train and cannot connect with bus routes to University campuses due to the protest activity.

“Our staff, students, and other members of our University community have shown incredible patience and understanding but the situation is causing significant strain,” Prof Guilford said.

Combined with continuing concerns over deteriorating sanitary conditions, and confirmation of protestors testing positive for COVID-19, Asst Commissioner Chambers said Police continue to urge people to stay away from an occupation site that is no longer a safe environment for families and children.

“The protest area is not safe for families, and it is still far from being operated lawfully. We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any unlawful activity that is reported to us.”

“This has been a difficult and disruptive time for many local residents and businesses. As we continue to return freedom of movement to Wellington, Police will maintain a high presence throughout the city this weekend so that everyone feels safe.

“Police encourages everyone to enjoy Wellington for the right reasons this weekend,” he said.

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