Police won't tolerate renewal of protest at Parliament - Coster

Source: 1News

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says police won't tolerate a renewal of the protest at Parliament.

The anti-mandate occupation came to a dramatic end after 23 days on Wednesday.

Police advanced on protesters occupying Parliament's grounds, ripping away tents and structures.

Tents were lit on fire by protesters, with gas canisters creating loud explosions.

Officers were showered with paint, petrol and water. Fire extinguishers were also used on officers. Bricks, paving stones, rocks, traffic cones, poles and wood from pallets were among items thrown at police.

By the end, 87 people had been arrested and seven officers hospitalised.

"We cannot have a recurrence of the occupation at Parliament. This was never about squashing lawful protest, but that place now needs time to rest, it needs time to be made safe, and so we won't be tolerating a renewal of protest at Parliament," Coster told Breakfast on Thursday.

"We will not be having any protests at Parliament while it is being restored and made safe again."

Coster said the occupation had come to an end as a decision had been made in the middle of the day to follow through with the "momentum" from the morning.

"It was clear the crowd had a very high level of resolve to stay there and we needed to take the opportunity while we had the numbers to carry on and finish that job."

He described the violence directed at police as a "terrible situation".

"By the end what we saw was just gratuitous violence towards our people, who ultimately were just there doing their job."

There were less than 300 people at the protest on Wednesday, but police still struck a high level of resistance, Coster said.

Asked by Breakfast's John Campbell how to deal with the anger of the protesters and their sense the state is conspiring against them, Coster replied: "The violence we saw yesterday didn't represent what that protest started as. The people we had there in the end were just gratuitous and spoiling for a fight."

"The issues surrounding this have caused huge rifts and tensions and I think we need to be really careful how we approach those to come out of this in the best way we can as a country."

Asked if the country could come out of this, Coster said: "I believe we can. I think as a country we showed tremendous unity through a very difficult two years, we are on the cusp of something different, and frankly we just need to hold it together to get over the line of this next outbreak and I think we'll be in a better place but it requires a lot of understanding and a bit of give and take for us to get there."

Coster said he was proud staff had "restored a level of calm to a very volatile situation".