Opinion: Protesters need to call it, people need to feel safe again

The right to protest is an essential part of democracy and I’ll always fiercely defend that right. As a journalist I find protests exciting, having covered many all over the world.

A protester takes a moment to eat an apple while facing the police wall on February 10.

In Auckland the big TPP protest blocked the roads and motorway. A camera operator and I went live onto our website for several hours, including showing behind the scenes footage of us running up hills and the cameraman getting shoved by a protester.

There was also a very memorable march through Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack. The security was intense, and still the media was welcome.

The protest that is happening at Parliament right now feels different.

Jessica Mutch McKay gives her opinion on a big day for the PM who has been slipping in the polls.

Most of the time protesters welcome media coverage – knowing it’s a way of getting their message across.

But here there’s aggression towards the media. As someone who is on the news most nights, I’m definitely taking a cautious approach around the precinct.

I think for most MPs and most journalists robust criticism is OK and expected, but it does feel more aggressive this time.

Members of the public also don’t feel safe and some people can’t carry on with normal life.

We’re now four days in.

What other place in the world would allow people to camp on the front lawn of Parliament? Parliament is the peoples’ place and right now, members of the public can’t even walk through.

Nobody wants to see anyone hurt if the police go in, so protesters need to call it – they’ve got their message across.

They need to go home. The threats and aggro should stop. Parliament and the surrounding area needs to go back to normal and people need to feel safe again.