Parliament protest aftermath – NZ police enter ‘significant investigation phase’

Police make 89 arrests at Parliament protest
Police made 89 arrests yesterday during the final day of the 23-day Parliament grounds occupation by anti-covid public health protesters and made a further 11 arrests today. Image: RNZ

RNZ News

Police have begun a “significant investigation” into yesterday’s events at the Parliament protest and say they will hold people accountable for any criminal behaviour.

Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers has held a media conference to provide the latest information on the aftermath of the anti-covid public health measures protest.

Chambers said police made 89 arrests yesterday and there had been 11 further arrests today.

He said police had now entered a “significant investigation phase”.

“We are working hard to bring together a lot of footage, support from the public and other sources of information to help us hold people accountable for their criminal behaviour yesterday.”

Chambers said the investigation would continue “as long as it needs to”. He could not say how many people police were looking for.

“If any evidence demonstrates that someone’s behaviour was criminal then we will take the appropriate action,” he said.

“One of the things that we look at is funding streams. Work on that is underway.”

A ‘proportionate’ response
More than 40 police staff were injured yesterday. Injuries range from abrasions to bone fractures and head injuries. Eight staff who were admitted to hospital had since been discharged.

Chambers said police were thankful for support from Wellington Free Ambulance yesterday.

“Having them available alongside us … was something we are very grateful for.”

Watch the police media conference:

Video: RNZ News

Chambers said he did not have a total number of injuries for protesters, but medical support was available for them.

“I can’t comment on any admissions to hospital.”

He said the force that police used was “necessary and proportionate to the situation that was in front of them”.

He said police would look at anything that suggested police force was not appropriate.

The use of fire extinguishers and bricks being thrown at police by protesters changed the police response, Chambers said.

“We did use pepper spray yesterday and that was entirely appropriate.”

‘Close eye’ on remaining protesters
Police have had officers stationed around the perimeters of the CBD area today, but have not reported any issues.

Protesters have been gathering in other areas around Wellington, including on the Miramar Peninsula.

Police were keeping a “very close eye” on them, Chambers said.

“We are monitoring all behaviour and their activity to prevent and further situations.”

Assistant Commissioner Chambers said any protesters remaining in the Wellington region should go home. He said genuine protesters were long gone by yesterday.

Police would also monitor any activity in other parts of the country, Assistant Commissioner Chambers said. He added that police would be patrolling anywhere in the country where there are protests for as long as it takes.

Controller of the investigation
As national controller of the investigation into the protest, Chambers would be kept informed of any related activity elsewhere in the country.

“What we have seen today is a number of those protests, protesters, depart and go home as well.”

Before police involved in yesterday’s operation return to their part of the country they were required to have a RAT test, Assistant Commissioner Chambers said.

Assistant Commissioner Chambers said today’s efforts in Wellington had focused on reassurance patrols and visibility.

“I’d like to say a very big thank you to the people of Wellington. The support they have shown today to police staff that were involved yesterday and today has been phenomenal.”

He said police had received “thousands” of messages of thanks for their efforts.

Auckland Domain protest camp removed
Meanwhile, in Auckland the anti-mandate camp at Auckland Domain was being disassembled today.

Police and staff from Auckland Council were onsite.

The operation was peaceful and protesters were asking police if they could move somewhere else.

An eyewitness says initially four police and a mediator approached the occupation site, and later more than 10 officers and about 40 council workers were there.

Roads in the Domain were still closed.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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