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Evicting Occupy Dunedin

Written By: - Date published: 11:01 am, November 2nd, 2011 - 20 comments
Categories: activism, capitalism, class war - Tags: , ,

Yesterday was a dramatic day for Occupy Dunedin.  At 3pm council officials “flanked by a security guard” issued the Occupation with a trespass notice.  The notice set a deadline of 8pm to move out, or each person would face a fine of up to $1000 or prison for up to 3 months (or 6 months, reports vary on this).

The Occupation called for supporters to come and join them. Several hundred people showed up, and marched around the Octagon. The 8pm deadline came and went with no police action. Asked last night why the trespass notice was not actioned, Mayor Dave Cull said he “had no idea”.

I’ll take a wild guess.  The police didn’t want to forcibly confront the Occupation.  No one wants a repeat of the violence of Occupy Oakland, and the Dunedin police had far too much sense to do it.  My hat is off to them.  The Occupation still has the support of the city, with the ODT reporting that “The marchers were largely cheered and occasionally jeered by onlookers, many of whom had been celebrating Melbourne Cup day”.

Time for Dave Cull – who has so far struck me as a perfectly decent and reasonable Mayor – to reconsider the council’s position on this.  Let the Occupation stay as long as they will. They are making a valid point, forcing into the foreground the issues that governments everywhere would rather not confront.  Final word on this to Dunedin North Labour candidate David Clark:

Occupy Dunedin

Last night, I spoke at the Occupy gathering in the Octagon.  I thanked those involved for bringing the Occupy discussion to Dunedin.  I’ve blogged about Occupy before.  It is drawing attention to the growing gap between rich and poor.

…While the group covers a broad cross-section of society, they share a common concern that things are not as they should be.  And things are not as they should be.  Under the National Government, costs have risen faster than wages.  Increasing numbers of families in Dunedin are struggling to make ends meet. …

In the year to June 2011, Presbyterian Support Otago’s Family Works service provided budgeting, income-related advice and tangible support to 2921 families and individuals. … The full report contains the personal stories of families in Otago living with poverty.  It is a sobering read.

There is no doubt that many are struggling to put food on the table.  But even middle income earners are feeling the squeeze – and perhaps this is why the Occupy movement resonates more widely.  Certainly, Labour’s plan to address cost of living issues is receiving a warm response.

The occupiers were yesterday served trespass notices, effective from 8pm.  It is not clear what the next few days will bring for them.  Whatever it brings, I am grateful that they have provoked a debate about the gap between rich and poor.  Their campsite in the Octagon has given many struggling Dunedin residents occasion to share their growing concerns.


20 comments on “Evicting Occupy Dunedin”

  1. This situation poses interesting legal issues.  The Octagon is a public space and ordinarily people should be allowed to be there and remain there, as long as they are not breaking any laws.

    I believe the police response is in part because they know it is not simple.

    I also think that the occupiers should have the right to remain.  After all they are exercising a number of very important rights and any attempted limitation is a threat to democratic principles. 

  2. idlegus 2

    i popped down at 8 last night, just to watch really to see if anything was going to happen, saw david clark speak, a couple cop cars whizzed around with sirens on, curious to see how it all turns out.

  3. JS 3

    From the photos it looks like there is still room for both the Occupy and other public events to take place in the Octagon. In Wellington the City Council and other groups have negotiated with the Occupy group to shift or make space for certain events such at the RWC parade. Seems it was all done democratically and amicably and the Occupiers even provided face painting for the crowds.
    But if there was forced eviction it could escalate and turn nasty and hundreds more people (like me) would come in and show active support for the Occupiers.

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    The problem is that city and district coucils (along with central government) are the guardians of the dyfunctional economic system which is wrecking everyone’s future.

    David Suzuki nails it! Corporations rule this planet and politicians are bought-and-paid-for lackeys of coporatations.

    Dr. David Suzuki – Message to The World_from Occupy Vancouver

  5. I would have thought Pete George would be trolling the fuck out of this thread by now.

    Anyways, good on the powers that be in Dunedin for being reasonable on this one. A messy confrontation could have gotten really ugly in a small tightly packed space like that.

    • NickS 5.1

      Heh, he might just have been the guy arrested last night in the Octagon 😀

      Edit: though it’s also possible he’s down there right now trying to get them to give into the hair piece of Dunne, leave and vote United Future this election with his “stunning” rhetorical skills

      • fmacskasy 5.1.1

        I wonder who that idiot was?

        Anyway, the irony of this situation is that if the thug ends up in Court, it’ll be Strike 1 against him.

        Thank you, ACT, for helping put away violent reactionaries.

    • just saying 5.2

      Last I saw he was getting a pounding at the Dimpost.

  6. Bob 6

    I suppose Pete cant be everywhere at once ? He has to share himself around .
    I really hope that forced eviction is not the solution to people expressing their concerns about the dysfunctional system thats imposed .
    But then again if the powers that be want to light the touch paper just before the election ….

    • AAMC 6.1

      It’s only made things grow in every confrontation in the States, perhaps it would wake a few sleepy hobbits here also…

  7. Are the protestors allowing other members of the public to use the park?

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Of course they are – wouldn’t be any point in the occupation if no one could see and interact with it.

  8. Ieuan 8

    I was in Dunedin yesterday and went to have a look at the protest.

    They are pretty much using all the public green space in the Octagon so I don’t think you can argue that others can also use it.

    Whereas I have some sympathy for their protest there has to come a time when they say ‘we’ve made our point now, it’s time to move on’.

    Maybe the whole point of the protest is to wait until police forcibly remove them under the glare of TV cameras, I think that would be unfortunate but not totally unexpected.

    • idlegus 8.1

      i was in the octagon yesterday & theres plenty of space, all the steps are clear & that is where people sit to have their lunch etc…the camp is tidy & friendly. they should probably move on at some point, as their numbers will dwindle anway (i could be wrong), but when the call came last night over social media that they were to be evicted a bunch of people turned up (maybe 150?), including quakers, students & workers like myself (& even some drunk melbourne cup revellers joined the march too), im not sure i agree with the occupiers on everything but if theres going to be some head cracking by the cops i wanted to be there to witness & photograph it.

      • AAMC 8.1.1

        They will have made their point when the system changes, that’s the point, it’s not a protest, it’s a process, it’s a beginning.

        I’m hoping those who are motivated to post on this and other blogs will be motivated to join the Nov 5th occupy actions around the country, it really needs to gather momentum, which means being bigger than the first.

        • DJL

          I’m convinced it will get bigger as time passes and more people understand, its about all of us and our earth.

  9. Afewknowthetruth 9


    ‘I’m convinced it will get bigger as time passes and more people understand’

    The elites are doing their best to keep the various Ponzi schemes going:

    ‘Prime Minister David Cameron called today for tomorrow’s G20 summit to show a sense of “urgency” over the implementation of measures to resolve instability in the eurozone.

    The gathering in the French Riviera resort of Cannes is set to be dominated by the chaos unleashed by Greek prime minister George Papandreou’s announcement on Monday of a referendum on the eurozone rescue package for his country’s ailing economy.

    Mr Papandreou, who is coming under intense pressure to reverse his decision, is facing crisis talks this evening with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel in Cannes.’

    However, no amount of hot air from politicians is going to alter the reality of Peak Oil bringing down the system over the next decade.

  10. Nothing much changing except back to the same few.


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