Police say Wellington residents have had a “gutsful” of blocked streets in the central city and urged owners of the vehicles linked with the Parliament protest to move them into Sky Stadium from tonight.
Superintendent Corrie Parnell, Wellington District Commander, provided an update to media in Wellington at 5pm.
Parnell urged people parked unlawfully around the Wellington CBD to move their vehicles and said there continued to be “productive talks” with Parliament protesters.
He said residents, workers, students, motorists and business owners continue to face disruption from the ongoing protest.
Parnell said police hoped to get the road cleared tonight and added that forcibly removing vehicles was an option, but was not his preference.
No vehicles have been towed to date.
“Wellingtonians have the right to move freely and safely around the city soall roads being clear is a top priority,” he said.
“Sky Stadium is providing a safe parking facility for protesters’ vehicles from this evening.”
Protestors were given information about how and when their vehicles can be relocated, Parnell said.
Vehicles were free to come and go from the stadium, he said. He said vehicle owners have been “quite receptive” to the idea.
“We’ve had some really positive lines going today with some key influences in there. It’s our aspiration that we will get the roadway clear.”
Parnell said police have spoken with the Defence Force about helping to move the vehicles if needed.
Parnell added that police had “productive talks” with the protesters.
“Police continue to have a large presence at Parliament and have had productive talks with some protest groups,” Parnell said.
“Attempts to connect with other factions are ongoing.”
He said there was a high probability the protest could remain for days or even weeks.
He said there were “no incidents of note” at the protest today, but expressed concern at the number of children at the protest.
Parnell said he was aware of people considering “counter-protests” and he strongly advised against that.
Earlier, police criticised protesters’ actions in the central city saying they are creating “real stress and concern” for residents and nearby schools and businesses.
Parnell said police will be providing vehicle owners with information throughout the day on how to move their cars and trucks to the Sky Stadium parking – which should be ready by 6.30pm.
He says the protest is causing distress to those in the surrounding area.
“The disruption to residents, schools and places of work, is creating real stress and concern, and people are feeling unsafe.”
In a post on Twiter Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry revealed a friend of his who works as a public servant was spat on by protesters as they walked to work.
“Spat on for wearing a mask,” he wrote.
“You can’t make this up.”
Victoria University Student’s Association has spoken out against the protests, saying while it supports the right to peaceful protest, the occupation has overstepped this.
“There is no place for intimidation and harassment which puts the safety and wellbeing of the public, students and staff at risk. Our university community has a right to access campus – our place of work and study – safely,” a spokesperson said.
They went on to say the situation should have been handled better by Victoria University, Wellington City Council and the police.
“Out of safety and caution, students & staff are now being directed to stay home. It should not have reached the point where the protest has overflowed from Parliament to directly impact campus premises, and the safety and wellbeing of our community has been placed into jeopardy.
“VUWSA calls for the University, Wellington City Council and law enforcement to take action against the dangerous and unwelcome gridlock of campus thoroughfare and occupation of university premises. “
The Parliament occupation has entered its seventh day, and Parnell says there is now a real concern for the health of protesters and police monitoring the situation.
Weather conditions were cold and wet overnight, and Parnell says protesters need to go – and take their children with them.
“We now have concerns about the health risks posed and sanitation issues.”
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