Live: Protesters arrested after trying to breach gates of Parliament

Sophie Trigger, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Feb 2022, 3:36pm
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Live: Protesters arrested after trying to breach gates of Parliament

Sophie Trigger, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Feb 2022, 3:36pm

Protesters have tried to breach the gates of parliament, prompting a wall of police to push them back out. 

Protesters are now attempting to move onto the forecourt at Parliament. 

Police have formed a line and are pushing the protesters back. 

A protest organiser is urging protesters to remain calm and not to resist arrest. 

At least two people have been put in handcuffs and led away by police. 

One person broke through and has been tackled to the ground by police. 

In a short video taken from the gates of Parliament, a man can be seen handcuffed and being taken away by two police officers. 

Crowds can be heard chanting which a protester speaks through a mega phone. 

One person can be heard screaming "guilty". 

Earlier the group, who camped at Parliament overnight, showed no signs of retreating despite a heavy police presence. 

A speaker earlier in the day said he intended to walk up Parliament's steps at 3pm, and encouraged others to join him. 

However, tensions have eased slightly since protesters reacted angrily to being issued a trespass notice by police earlier this morning. 

At least 100 officers greeted protesters today, many of whom had camped overnight at Parliament after travelling across the country in convoy to protest against vaccine mandates and the Government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Upon receiving the trespass notice at about 10.30am protest organisers reacted angrily, throwing it at the police officer in charge. 

A protester speaks to police outside Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

Furious protesters then approached the line of police officers guarding the forecourt of Parliament chanting "tell the truth" while also hurling abuse at the media on the balcony above. 

Speaker Trevor Mallard had earlier threatened to trespass the protesters. 

At 1.30pm the protesters still showed no intention of leaving, with tents erected and many sitting on picnic blankets or camping chairs. 

Protesters have been addressing the crowd for several hours. Earlier in the day a speaker said he would be walking up the steps to Parliament at 3pm, and encouraged other protesters to join him. 

Protesters were met with police on Wednesday morning. Photo / Sophie Trigger 

"For those that want to make a stand, we can all get arrested," he said. 

Another said the "police were not their enemies ... they are like so many of us that are forced to comply". 

A speaker later in the day encouraged other protesters not to wear masks and another who had travelled from Queenstown talked about the impact of Covid restrictions in the South Island. 

Social media posts seen by the Herald show a lack of cohesion among some of the protesters, with some saying they plan to advance on Parliament, and others urging a calmer response. 

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell said they had increased their presence at Parliament grounds today in response to the protest. 

"Police have engaged with protest leaders and encouraged them to follow the advice of the Speaker of the House last night, who provided guidelines about protest activity in the grounds of Parliament," Parnell said. 

"Police are asking protesters to dismantle any structures that have been erected on the grounds, such as tents and marquees. 

"Police will continue to have a significant presence at Parliament today and will deal with incidents as they arise, recognising individuals' lawful right to peaceful protest." 

Protesters are served with a trespass notice at Parliament. 

When questioned about options for towing away illegally parked vehicles, Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said they were aware the end of Lambton Quay by the bus terminal was blocked. 

"We are working with police on our options regarding illegally parked vehicles, taking into account our desire not to put our staff in danger," he said. 

Thousands of protesters had yesterday brought Wellington's city streets to a standstill when they arrived for Convoy 2022 – a protest against ongoing Covid restrictions, including vaccine mandates. 

A spokesperson yesterday said they're "in for the long haul" and intend to stay for days. 

A letter handed out to protesters by the Speaker's office reminded them of the rules of protest on Parliamentary grounds - including that they must not impede the flow of vehicular traffic, cannot set up tents and must direct all speaker away from Parliament. 

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

Speakers can only be used for speeches, and speeches can only be given during daylight hours. 

All protesters have been asked to take down their tents. 

Wellington District Road policing manager Inspector Wade Jennings said yesterday they recognised individuals had a lawful right to protest and had been monitoring the protest throughout the day. 

"While there has been some disruption to traffic, there have been no significant incidents and subsequently no arrests," he said. 

"Police staff will continue to have a presence at the protest and will deal with incidents as they arise." 

National Party leader Christopher Luxon told RNZ that while he appreciated everyone had a right to protest, there was a lot of anti-social behaviour and the protesters were infringing on the freedoms of others. 

Thousands of anti-mandate protesters arrived to Parliament yesterday. Photo / Mark Mitchell 

"Not supportive of this at all," he said. 

Luxon said ultimately the protesters were an operational issue for police. 

The National Party had largely supported vaccine mandates, but he said there did need to be a clear timeline, triggers and criteria for when mandates finished. 

The movement has attracted people from all over New Zealand, with hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes travelling from both ends of the country to arrive in Wellington yesterday. 

Major highways into Wellington were brought to a standstill and the roads around Parliament blocked as hundreds of vehicles flooded into the capital. 

A convoy of cars, trucks and motorbikes have now arrived in Wellington causing delays on main roads. Video / Supplied 

A voices of Freedom spokesman addressed the crowd at Parliament yesterday, saying they intended to stay for several days. 

"We're here for the long haul, and at least for a few days, with an opportunity for anyone to speak here between 11am and 1pm," he said. 

"It's now up to each and every one of you to go back to your towns and cities, and stand up, stand up for freedom."