24 Jan 2012

Council will continue to move protesters

5:20 am on 24 January 2012

Auckland Council says it will continue to move Occupy protesters on if they re-establish their camps.

Camping equipment was confiscated from protesters from four different sites on Monday morning. The council says they were in breach of a bylaw which forbids camping.

Three people were arrested during the operation, for attempting to retrieve their belongings from a van.

About 50 protestors and supporters remained in Aotea Square early on Monday evening and five tents were still standing.

Some of the group tried to prevent contractors erecting a fence in the square, saying the council is trying to fence them in.

Police officers and security guards remain at the scene.

Auckland City chief executive Doug McKay says the council will take a 'wait and see approach' to the dispute, but the protesters need to accept they are no longer welcome in public parks in Auckland.

He says the protest has cost the council well over $200,000.

The council last year obtained a court order to force them to leave Aotea Square, but the group has been challenging it.

The case is due to go before the High Court again next month.

The council says it respects that people have a right to freedom of speech and protest, but not the right to camp indefinitely.

Meanwhile, police have confirmed two police officers involved in the operation against Occupy Auckland protesters at Aotea Square were wearing ID badges with the same number on them.

Police badges are numbered and are used to provide the public with a way to identify individual police officers.

Acting Area Commander for Auckland Central Inspector Mike McIlraith says he is unsure why the two officers were wearing badges with the same number but he says it is unacceptable and the matter will be investigated.