More than 100 protesters tonight gathered outside the Glen Innes police station demonstrating against what they said was excessive force used against them during a housing protest last night.
Contractors started work on April 2 to remove 40 state houses from Silverton Ave, Glenn Innes, and last night police and protesters clashed as houses were moved from two properties.
A woman required hospital treatment and witnesses have claimed police were heavy handed, something they deny.
Protesters, which included affected tenants, the Tamaki Housing Group, Occupy Auckland and Mana Maori, tonight picketed and chanted “Our civil rights are under attack! Stand up! Fight back!”.
“We want the Housing Minister to agree to a moratorium on the destruction and removal of all state houses in Glen Innes,” Sue Henry of the housing group said.
Police did not engage with the protesters who later marched towards Silverton Ave.
Marion Peta claims six protesters were “manhandled” by officers last night.
“It’s my first experience with being pushed around like that. They were so rough with us and they walked over us. Police absolutely over reacted.”
Peta and Phillis Pomare say they are going to lay complaints with police for being pushed last night.
Peta claims she was struck in the throat by an officer and has seen a doctor today.
One woman needed hospital treatment after last night’s protest where activists including John Minto were arrested.
“They hit Yvonne (Dainty). That wasn’t an accident. They shoved her so hard and as she fell backwards she hit her head on the ground. Then she started having a seizure. They wouldn’t let me go
so I could help her. They just walked right over her,” Peta claimed.
“What Police did last night was payback for what we did yesterday at Torrington Rd. We parked our cars in front of their removal trucks. They were the same officers that were at Torrington Rd earlier in the day.”
Police confirmed a protester suffered a seizure and emergency services attended to treat her.
”She’s fallen over and banged her head and it’s induced a seizure. She has a history of seizures,” Glen Innes Senior Sergeant Graeme Porter said.
Porter said the team policing unit formed a line and moved protesters, who linked arms, back.
”Staff push and motion them back.”
Although Porter didn’t see the woman fall, ”it was pitch black at that time of night”, she could of fallen while moving backwards, he said.
The Auckland District Health Board confirmed the woman went to Auckland City Hospital and spent the night under observation, but will not be admitted.
Joe Carolan, of the Mana Movement, said the protests had been orderly, with protesters accepting that the police were there to do their job, and individual officers had offered their sympathies.
However, he claimed that changed last night when “aggressive” officers stormed the protest lines after 10.30pm, arresting five protesters in the “blockade”, including leader John Minto.
Carolan, who had been at the site but was away when the protest was broken up, claimed Minto was dragged from a human train and others were knocked down during the confrontation.
Minto claimed police attempted to break up the protest “with unwarranted violence against the mainly local women on the line”.
“I personally received several injuries during the protest and a subsequent gratuitous and violent arrest for alleged obstruction.”
Minto claimed police acted with “thuggish abandon” that resulted in injuries to several of the protesters.
Porter said one person was arrested at the Torrington Cres protest and five were arrested at Silverton Ave. All were charged with obstruction.
”The police acted in a fair and professional manner,” he said. ”It was a tricky, emotional situation but police treated the protesters in a professional manner.”
Porter said the house on Silverton Ave was eventually removed and the truck was finally allowed on the Torrington Ave property.
”They have a right to protest but Housing New Zealand also has a right to do it’s lawful business.”
Displaced residents have been protesting against the move since February and when contractors began removing the houses, police were called when several tried to stop the trucks getting onto the site.
The project, part of the Tamaki Transformation Programme, involves the redevelopment of 156 Housing New Zealand properties to create 260 new homes.
Only 78 of those will be owned by Housing New Zealand, 39 will be owned by other social and community housing providers charging higher rent and the other 143 houses will be for private sale.
Another 40 state houses in the area will be modernised.
Housing New Zealand says it owns 57 per cent of the housing stock in the area and wants that reduced to 53 per cent over five years.
Residents have continued to fight the project with many saying they have been in the area for decades and don’t want to leave.
There are no guarantees those who have been moved to allow for the redevelopment will be able to move back.
- © Fairfax NZ News