Occupy Dunedin protesters refuse to move

WILMA MCCORKINDALE AND MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 21:38 01/11/2011

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Protesters camped on Dunedin’s Octagon have pledged to ignore a Dunedin City Council (DCC) trespass notice to be off the site by 8pm tonight.

As the Dunedin Town Hall clock struck 8pm, there was no sign of officers moving in to enforce the eviction, in spite of an expectation police might seek to remove the protesters.

The group, which has created a tent city on the centre city domain in sympathy with the US Occupy Wall St movement against worldwide economic inequalities and financial mismanagement, issued a press statement saying it would stay put.

Earlier in the week the protestors declined a move to the Market Reserve in the south of the city, which was suggested by the DCC.

Spokesman Anton Stiles said in discussion with the DCC, the group had offered to move to the city’s new Forsyth Barr Stadium – an offer that had been turned down by the council.

Stiles read out the council eviction notice, signed by its newly-appointed chief executive Paul Orders, to a respondent crowd at the site tonight.

It stated the group was infringing council reserves and freedom camping bylaws.

“We’re not freedom campers,” Stiles shouted to the crowd. We are camping for freedom.”

Stiles said the group was confident police would not move in to shift them from the site because that would contravene the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, which Stiles said stated no council bylaw could over-ride.

Mayor Dave Cull said the council was under pressure from local residents to have the group removed and reclaim the Octagon for all of the public to use.

The group was breaching two bylaws, the Reserves Bylaw and the Camping Control Bylaw, he said.

“They have a right to protest. What they don’t have a right to do is camp,” he said.

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