Police have made 60 arrests today as part of a pre-planned operation to remove anti-covid public health protesters from New Zealand’s Parliament grounds.
Police have been descending on Parliament from early this morning on day 23 of the occupation and have also begun towing larger vehicles, including campervans and trucks.
They say they have gained significant ground this morning across the occupation.
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Police have asked the public and commuters to avoid the area near Parliament and say they will continue to help those who want to leave the grounds to do so safely.
Hill Street is closed, and many surrounding streets to the protest have been blocked.
Protesters have reacted by throwing cones at police.
Police staff in and around the protest area have sighted protesters in possession of various weapons. These include homemade plywood shields and pitchforks.
One man told RNZ he wanted to move his car because it was all he owned.
There were reports of forklifts on the move, and police were also taking down more tents.
Around 60 people have now been arrested in relation to this morning’s operation at Parliament grounds.
Police continue to tow vehicles that are parked illegally. We have commenced towing larger vehicles, which includes trucks, vans and campervans.
— New Zealand Police (@nzpolice) March 1, 2022
One of the RNZ reporters on the scene said they were being abused by protesters and told to leave.
A police statement said weapons deployed among protesters included the use of fire extinguishers, a cord set up as a trip wire, paint-filled projectiles, homemade plywood shields and pitchforks.
At least three police staff have been injured in the clashes.
Protesters have repeatedly been reminded that Parliament grounds are closed, and that remaining there means they are trespassing.
The Kīngitanga is calling for a peaceful resolution to the occupation at Parliament and other sites across the country.
In a statement, a spokesperson said the Kīngitanga had not given its support to any occupation and claims to the contrary were untrue.
They said Kiingi Tuheitia had been a strong advocate for the covid public health response, while acknowledging the impact on people and their families.
The Kīngitanga said its priority was to get through omicron and start preparing for a life after covid.
The Kīngitanga said it was calling for a peaceful resolution to the occupation at Parliament and other protest sites across the country.
#WATCH Hundreds of police, many in riot gear, are moving in on protesters occupying Parliament and the surrounding streets.
Here is what our reporters saw throughout the morning.https://t.co/GcuivdbAuR
— Morning Report (@NZMorningReport) March 1, 2022
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.