Protester accused of bowling a pedestrian

TOM HUNT
PORIRUA REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2012
Benjamin Easton
ANDREW GORRIE/Fairfax NZ

ACCUSED: Benjamin Easton admits he was riding down the bus lane and "connected" with the man, but said he had a right to be there because he was protesting.

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Serial protester Benjamin Easton has been accused of bowling a pedestrian while performing a motorbike protest the wrong way through the very bus lanes he tried to stop.

A 33-year-old Wellington man said he was crossing the Manners St bus lane during the Monday night rush hour. He walked through a gap between stopped buses, entering the east-bound lane, and looked to the left for oncoming buses driving towards Courtenay Pl.

However, he did not look to the right, where he claims Mr Easton had crossed double yellow lines and was passing the parked buses on the wrong side of the road.

Mr Easton admitted to The Dominion Post that he was riding down the bus lane and "connected" with the man, but said he had a right to be there because he was protesting.

The man said he was knocked to the ground, causing a few "cuts and abrasions. It's not really acceptable to protest in a way that could kill someone," the pedestrian said.

He laid a complaint with police on Monday evening.

Wellington Central Sergeant Wade Jennings confirmed the complaint was being investigated. It was too early to say if charges would be laid.

A witness, who also recognised Mr Easton, told The Dominion Post he had been riding his bike at 15-20kmh on the wrong side of the road.

Mr Easton said he had moved to the wrong side of the road to overtake a long line of buses when the man stepped out.

He checked on the man, parked his bike, then waited until he left.

It had not been a deliberate act but Mr Easton believed he had a right to ride through the area as "what's in there is corrupt".

"Overseas when they protest they do horrible things, they kill people and throw stones at things because no-one's listening and here in New Zealand what's going to happen ... I went through on a protest, that's what it is and unfortunately someone stepped on to the road as everyone is saying they shouldn't do and we connected."

Mr Easton was yet to hear from the police or the man he had knocked over, despite emailing him.

Last month The Dominion Post revealed Wellington City Council had made a bid to declare Mr Easton a vexatious litigant because he had cost ratepayers more than $350,000 defending his doomed legal action.

Mr Easton has taken many court cases against the council over its Manners Mall bus route. He was nearly Tasered for wielding a sledgehammer during a 2010 central city protest.

He was also the central figure in a protracted anti-capitalist Occupy Wellington demonstration in Civic Square, and more recently he barricaded himself in a Housing New Zealand apartment complex to protest against the forced eviction of tenants.

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Contact Tom Hunt
Porirua reporter
Email: tom.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @tomdom76

- The Dominion Post

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