Police thank protest 'influencers' for helping move vehicles

Source: 1News

Police on Wednesday said progress is being made to move vehicles clogging Wellington roads on the ninth day of the protest outside Parliament.

Assistant Commissioner and operations commander Richard Chambers told media a dozen vehicles parked illegally have been moved, which was "encouraging".

He acknowledged leaders in the crowd were cooperative on Wednesday, saying "influencers" called for roads to be cleared.

"There have been no significant incidents or arrests in the last 24 hours."

He thanked protest leaders for demonstrating their intent "to work with us to resolve this situation peacefully and to take into consideration the needs of the general public".

Chambers said towing capability had now been sourced from across the country, thanking the "willingness from operators for the big task of moving vehicles".

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"This is a big task ahead of us and it’s a specialist one," with police still awaiting a formal response from the Defence Force for its assistance.

He added the work being done to resolve the situation peacefully was in the interests of "the Wellingtonian workers, residents and students to resolve the situation peacefully for everybody".

Chambers again urged protesters to move vehicles to Sky Stadium or another facility, or risk their vehicle being towed or seized.

While progress had been made with the protest group, Chambers said police will exercise judgement "about the application of our tactics". He said for that reason, police will encourage the group to reduce the impact of their protest.

It comes as a further influx of protesters made its way into the crowd on Wednesday, including children.

"However the crowd has been orderly," Chambers said.

He said police are taking care not to escalate matters unnecessarily.

"This is a disparate group. It will take some time for this conversation to work its way through to a solution for everybody.

"The issue the protesters have about mandates is not something for the police to engage in. That's a matter for interest groups and the Government to discuss."

An anti-vaccine mandate sign at the protest outside Parliament.

"Police don't want to stop the lawful right to protest, but you can't make that an unlawful protest.

"Our staff are working incredibly hard in a very, very challenging situation here. They too want to be able to go about their job as police people want to be able to go about their job without being abused. Ultimately our first goal is to clear the roads."

Chambers said he could not give a timeframe for roads to be cleared.

"Our priority is to be thinking about the safety of everybody."