Covid-19: anti-mandate protesters settle in Christchurch

Residents of central Christchurch want police to take action against a small group of anti-mandate protesters before it turns into a Wellington-like occupation.

A dozen protesters illegally set up five tents and two donated gazebos in Cranmer Square under cover of darkness Monday night.

The Canterbury Freedom and Rights Coalition has urged people to support the protest after a planned camp on Saturday was abandoned due to heavy rain.

The protest has angered local residents who want police to remove the campsite before it attracts more protesters.

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Janelle Rudman set up camp in Cranmer Square on Monday night to protest vaccination mandates.

STACY SQUIRES / Stuff

Janelle Rudman set up camp in Cranmer Square on Monday night to protest vaccination mandates.

Center Councilor Jake McLellan said police must prevent protesters from moving into a public park.

“I think most people would see that as reasonable, I certainly do,” McLellan said.

“I certainly hope for the sake of my residents…that the police choose to take what I would consider reasonable action,” he said.

“It’s a residential area. It is not fair.

A police officer and a member of Christchurch City Council visited the site around 11.30am on Tuesday. They handed out copies of the parks and reserves by-law before leaving.

The regulations state that no one may camp or drive, drive or bring a vehicle onto a reserve unless it is in an area specifically set aside by the council for camping.

Anyone who violates the rules must, at the request of an enforcement officer, immediately cease their activity and leave if asked to do so.

A spokesman for the council confirmed that they had spoken to the protesters and provided them with a copy of the bylaw.

“We are working closely with the police on the next steps.”

The spokesman said he appreciated that the gatherings caused concern and upset local residents.

THINGS

Watch: A camp walk outside Parliament on Monday morning as the protest enters its second week.

“We are working to avoid any escalation of issues as safety is our top priority.”

A police spokesman said he knew protesters were in Cranmer Square on Tuesday.

“Police are respecting the legal right to protest and we will be monitoring the situation to ensure there is minimal disruption to the general public.”

A resident, who lives 15 meters from the square, said she feared that if police did not act quickly, Christchurch could face a similar situation in Wellington where protesters have occupied Parliament grounds for more than a month. one week.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was fed up with the ongoing freedom rights protests in Cranmer Square and had felt intimidated by previous rallies.

She alerted the city council on Monday evening to the development of the situation, but said she had been referred to the police.

Another resident also called on the police and Christchurch City Council to crack down on campers now before their numbers increase.

“If they don’t stop him when he’s little, it becomes a big problem.”

Single mother Janelle Rudman was among the first group of protesters who set up tents.

Darfield’s mother-of-three had attended previous demonstrations for Freedom Right, but had never felt compelled to go this far before.

Nick Elliot and his 4-year-old daughter, Khaleesi, are at the protest.

STACY SQUIRES / Stuff

Nick Elliot and his 4-year-old daughter, Khaleesi, are at the protest.

Rudman had opted out of getting the Covid-19 vaccine and had already quit working at a childcare center. This week, she was likely to quit a later job at a gas station where she trained as a barista.

She stressed that she was not against vaccination, but that she was “pro-choice”.

Rudman said she would live off the benefit because of her choice and was angry that the mandate meant others would have to do the same.

Rudman’s daughter, 8, and son, 15, were also camping, but she didn’t worry they’d miss school while they occupied the spot.

“They’re learning about life right now.”

Protesters camp out in Cranmer Square in central Christchurch.

STACY SQUIRES / Stuff

Protesters camp out in Cranmer Square in central Christchurch.

She intended to stay as long as it took for the warrant to be lifted.

Nick Elliott took his 4-year-old daughter Khaleesi to the protest and intended to support her during the day.

The single parent said he was vaccinated, but was against the mandate.

“I am ‘pro-choice’. We should have the right to choose.

Elliott said he had never been to a protest before and had previously “always gone with the flow”.

Rouk Cruickshanks brought his parrot Buddy to the protest.

STACY SQUIRES / Stuff

Rouk Cruickshanks brought his parrot Buddy to the protest.

“I don’t want to be here, but I want our freedom back.”

Rouk Cruickshanks shares an apartment with vaccinated residents but didn’t want to get vaccinated because it was compulsory.

“What’s the point of having rights if you can’t enforce them?”

Additional reporting by Tina Law and Steven Walton.

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