/Covid-19 Wellington protest: Police vow to clear vehicles no matter how long it takes – NZ Herald

Covid-19 Wellington protest: Police vow to clear vehicles no matter how long it takes – NZ Herald

Fresh scuffles have broken out between protesters and police with riot shields outside the Parliamentary Library complex next to Parliament Buildings

A large group of officers in helmets had gathered outside the complex.

Police are continuing to remove cars from outside Parliament in an operation that began before dawn and has led to 36 arrests so far today.

By 2pm most of the vehicles in lower Molesworth St had been removed as officers gain “significant ground” from the occupation site.

Police have vowed to clear the large anti-vaccine, anti-mandate protest that has occupied Parliament for the last three weeks, no matter how long it takes.

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Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said on Wednesday police “will continue this operation until it’s completed”.

Coster said the crowd has become focused on confrontation, and order needs to be restored to Wellington.

“That includes clearing streets and removing tents.”

Forklifts are being used to scoop up trucks and tents, and infrastructure such as portaloos and toilets have been removed too.

Fifteen vehicles have been towed and seized and “will not be returned in the immediate future” Coster said.

It comes after a long morning of violent clashes between police and protesters in which 36 people were arrested, dozens of vehicles were towed and three police officers were injured.

Paramedics tend to police. Photo / Mike Scott
Paramedics tend to police. Photo / Mike Scott

Police say they were aware of protesters carrying homemade weapons including pitch-forks, trip-wires, fire extinguishers and plywood shields – some protesters also shined a laser at the police helicopter which was circling the operation, which police said was “disappointing”.

“Three of our staff have received injuries, two with abrasions and one with paint thrown in the face. All received medical attention at the scene and are back working in operation.”

A shirtless man is dragged by police. Photo / Mike Scott
A shirtless man is dragged by police. Photo / Mike Scott

Large swathes of the occupation have now been cleared, and police have control over the National Library and a few of the surrounding streets.

Children are still present at the occupation, despite the chaotic scenes of the morning and police are urging protesters to take their kids somewhere safe – they added Oranga Tamariki will be assisting them in the operation.

Children are still present despite police urging their parents to take them home. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Children are still present despite police urging their parents to take them home. Photo / Mark Mitchell

According to one livestream from the grounds of the protest, some protesters were calling for children to be taken to the front of Parliament House to act as a buffer between them and the police.

A protester kisses a child at the Parliament occupation. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A protester kisses a child at the Parliament occupation. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It comes as a whopping 22,152 new community cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the community, and 405 people are in hospital with the virus.

The occupation has been referred to as “Camp Covid” by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, with fears it could be a superspreader event. The Ministry of Health confirmed 20 cases have been recorded among protesters, with the real number likely to be much higher due to a reluctance to get tested.

A protester being comforted after police action against them on day 23 of the Covid-19 Convoy protest at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A protester being comforted after police action against them on day 23 of the Covid-19 Convoy protest at Parliament. Photo / Mark Mitchell

“The Ministry remains concerned about protesters becoming severely ill with Covid-19 and the potential for the protest to become a superspreader event.”

A Herald reporter at the protest on Wednesday said people were “visibly sick” and coughin