Occupy Auckland protesters have developed a "personal vendetta" against the council and have been threatening and intimidating staff, the council's lawyer says.
Auckland Council appeared in Auckland District Court again yesterday, seeking to have occupy members fined or jailed for allegedly breaching an injunction evicting them from Aotea Square.
During preliminary arguments at the hearing, council lawyer Ross Burns said the protesters had developed a "personal vendetta" against some council workers and had been intimidating and verbally abusive.
He said in one case a protester had to be removed from council offices because his behaviour was "causing concern".
Burns said another protester, Merlin Blackmore, had threatened a council employee.
After the court case yesterday Blackmore denied there was a vendetta.
"I wouldn't say a personal vendetta as such, I mean there's certainly a bit of animosity towards certain individuals within the corporate arm of the council, who have really been having a go at us."
He said at the end of January he had been "around" Aotea Square.
"It could have been construed as threatening but that wasn't my intent. Basically I told David Middleton [Council Senior Risk Facilitator] that I know what the f*** he's up to and we're not going to stand for it.
"But yeah, I'd been awake all night and a number of other things had been going on and I sort of lashed out at him.
"I didn't make any threats as such, but it could have been construed as threatening behaviour."
Blackmore is currently in Waitangi, but Occupy Auckland was not over for him.
Yesterday's hearing was adjourned for three months after Judge David Wilson said the council needed to serve notices in person to each of the protesters affected by its application.
The council said it would try to do so, but given the transient nature of some protesters it was possible not all notices would be served.
Burns said the council would have to decide whether or not to go ahead with its application if not all the protesters could be found.
The council was applying to the court to have the protesters arrested for breaching the injunction, but in its submissions to the court it asked that they merely be fined, recognising that the breaches happened in the past.
Occupy 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 Judge Wilson released a decision saying they were breaching a council bylaw governing the use of public places and had caused damage.
Since then there has been an ongoing battle between the council and protesters over Aotea Square and the right to peacefully protest, versus the right of the general public to use and enjoy the space.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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