Police 'assaulted' in Harbour Bridge protest, 11 arrested

Source: 1News

Police have arrested 11 people and say officers have been assaulted after protesters attempted marching over the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Saturday.

Arrested protesters are facing a number of charges including assault to police, resisting arrest, and driving-related charges, Waitematā District Commander Superintendent Naila Hassan told media on Saturday afternoon.

She said a number of officers had been assaulted but that there were no injuries.

Hassan said protesters had been "incredibly selfish" and exhibited "absolute stupidity".

"It was simply stupid behaviour. We had advised them of the risks they posed to themselves and other road users. And they absolutely took no notice of that."

Two southbound lanes on State Highway 1, and the Onewa on-and-off ramps in both directions, were closed as a result of the protest.

Officers surround a protest vehicle on a road near the Harbour Bridge.

"It is such a dangerous environment. Sixty km/h winds today over that Harbour Bridge, and people choose to get out of their vehicles. It is absolute stupidity."

Hassan said police had been negotiating with the protest group who were "adamant they wished to march over the bridge".

Social media posts suggested that organisers of a protest campaigning against the Government's Three Waters plan, had planned to cross the bridge on foot on Saturday.

"Thankfully, as a result of us advising them of the serious safety concerns and the risk they posed to themselves, as well as other road users, they agreed to drive their road vehicles over the bridge."

A protester's car.

She said police had formed an agreement with the protesters to drive at a set speed.

"As they went over the Harbour Bridge, they failed to agree with the conditions we set and they started to undertake unlawful activity," Hassan said.

"They slowed their vehicles whilst on the Harbour Bridge, brought them to a stop. And a number of people jumped out of the vehicles."

The Police Superintendent said officers acted in a "very professional and very swift" manner to bring the "really dangerous situation under control" while dealing with strong winds.

READ MORE: Auckland Harbour Bridge protest closes two lanes

Traffic on Auckland's North Shore was severely disrupted as a result of the protest, with two southbound lanes on the Harbour Bridge closed for a brief time.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge had been closed for parts of Friday due to heavy winds.