Grass Damage Minimal Say Occupy Auckland

Published: Wed 1 Feb 2012 06:54 PM
Grass Damage Minimal Say Occupy Auckland
Occupy Auckland protestors are seeking an independent landscaper to assess the cost of damage to the grass at Aotea Square.
At a general assembly at Aotea Square on Tuesday 31 January, protestors claimed that Auckland Council had inflated the estimated cost to repair the grass, “which we can all see is growing back fine,” said one of the facilitators of the meeting.
Auckland Council has claimed that repairing the grass area could extend beyond $61 500 + GST, a cost they say should allow them to restrict the protestors’ freedom to peacefully assemble. However, the area of Aotea Square where Occupy Auckland protestors were encamped has now been fenced off by the council and the grass has begun to grow back without any other intervention.
Court documents from the trial in December 2011 report that, “the respondents [Occupy Auckland] do not… deny that … bylaws are being breached although they submit that the claim for damage to public property is excessive...’
Judge DM Wilson further stated: “I infer that any interference with the comfort and enjoyment of the public is minimal.”
The Occupy Auckland protestors who were detained by police last week for returning to Aotea Square, faced court today for their individual charges. The collective Occupy Auckland movement returns to court on Thursday morning where the council will seek to have protestors committed to prison.
There were originally only two named respondents on the court documents, but this has now risen to eight. The rest of the request for committal applies to unnamed individual ‘associates’ and named groups who have had representatives present at the protest on occasion, such as United Trade Union and the Mana Party.
“This is bizarre,” says one protestor, “It is just so vague… almost anyone could be one of these associates.”
“We have valid things that we are asking for,” says another, “We have the right to stay until we are heard.”

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