Council drops proceedings against Occupy Auckland
Auckland Council has dropped legal proceedings against Occupy Auckland protesters, six months after they were evicted from Aotea Square.
Several protesters were charged with contempt of court for continuing to camp in the square after trespass notices were served.
Ross Burns, lawyer for Auckland Council, confirmed the court proceedings had been dropped.
"Since the police initiated mobilising protesters, we've had no further trouble," he said.
"Everyone felt that it was time to put the matter to rest."
The Occupy group set up camp in Aotea Square in October last year, in protest against wealth inequality and corporate influence on government.
The group was evicted from the square on December 21, after the council went to the Auckland District Court.
Judge David Wilson released a decision saying the group were breaching a council bylaw governing the use of public places and had caused damage.
However, when the council took remaining occupants to court a week later to have them arrested, the application was declined.
At the time, Judge Philippa Cunningham said it would be difficult to determine who was residing at the camp and who was just visiting.
She was also concerned those arrested would not be able to get a bail hearing until January 4 because of Christmas and New Year holidays.
After the December court ruling, the Auckland protesters spread to other parts of the city, including Victoria Park, and had signalled their intention to expand to Albert Park, the North Shore and Te Atatu.
Other tents appeared in Aotea Square over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, breaching the first court order issued just before Christmas prohibiting camping there.
Auckland Council managed to shut down camps across the city on January 23 after council staff, security guards and around 30 police officers forcibly removed tents and equipment. Protesters retaliated by occupying the security guards' vans.
There were also nasty scenes as security guards attempted to use knives to cut down one of the Occupy structures and three people were arrested.
On February 8, Auckland Council appeared in court again, seeking to have occupy members fined or jailed for allegedly breaching an injunction evicting them from Aotea Square.
The court proceedings were adjourned after Judge Wilson said the council needed to serve notices in person to each of the protesters affected by the application.
At the time, the council said it would try to do so, but given the transient nature of some of the protesters it was possible not all notices would be said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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