Occupy Christchurch is the last Occupy instance still running in New Zealand, and one of few Occupations in the world still on its original camp-site. So can it last? Some commentary:

03/01/2012 in The Press, Chris Trotter explained Why Occupy fails to move 99 per cent of Kiwis as mostly due to the “vast experiential gulf between those at the sharp end of inequality in the United States and the New Zealand poor.. nowhere, among the Kiwi Occupiers’ interminable general assembly attempts to reach an ontologically impossible consensus between anarchism and socialism was there ever a mobilising image.. its single greatest failure has been its refusal to transform its manifestly untrue claim to represent 99 per cent of the New Zealand public into anything resembling reality. When even New Zealand’s conservative Prime Minister confesses that most Kiwis are socialists at heart, an appeal for greater equality should have been the easiest of sells, but this never eventuated. Beloved communities arise out of the open and collective struggle for a better world, not from muddy encampments or the ineffectual fluttering of consensual hands” – with some perspicacity and heaps of derision. Christchurch’s resident homeless have now fully occupied Occupy here though, negating Trotter’s main criticism. So is his summary fair? Some history:

Occupiers ready to argue case in court stuff.co.nz/national 05/01/2012 – Occupy Auckland faced court action, splitting into four camps, then repeated eviction. Occupy Wellington split in two and resisted eviction, then folded as Occupy Dunedin and Invercargill had earlier.

There have been problems – issues of substance abuse etc have divided the Occupy camps. Policing has been liberal initially, as the camps have had some advantage for the performance of police roles in the inner city for a time. Most of the pressure has therefore come from within.

“Occupy fractures” ‘Criminal’ element take over park site Christchurch Mail 18 Jan 2012 pressdisplay.com
PROTEST GROUP Occupy Christchurch has dwindled to only two genuine members and has been overtaken by “a whole lot of bludgers”, a protester says. The occupier, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said most of the people now occupying the Hagley Park village were unsavoury elements who usually stayed at the City Mission and simply wanted access to the free food and bedding. He said they had criminal and drug-using backgrounds and their presence had scared off most of the genuine Occupy protesters. The two remaining occupiers wanted to oust the “free-loaders”. “There’s a whole lot of people who … don’t even know the background,” he said. “We will ask them to leave and if they don’t we will ask the police for help if necessary, because they are too rough for us to handle.”
City Missioner Michael Gorman said he was not aware of it happening as he was out of the city, but the complaint could not be simply that the people did not meet the ideal protester image. “If they are from the City Mission, as long as they are not breaking the law, they’ve got as much right to be there as anyone else does,” he said. “If they are breaking the law, police should be notified … It sounds like the solution lies in their hands.”
Mayor Bob Parker said he still wanted to see the group leave. “They would do everyone a favour by coming to realise that they either fold up their tents and move on or it will arrive at a legal path,” he said. Mr Parker had wanted them gone by Christmas, but was waiting to see what happened in Auckland. Protesters there were served a court order on December 23 to leave Aotea Square, and they were gone the next day.
It is yet to be decided if legal action will be taken to remove the Christchurch group. Council city environment manager Jane Parfitt said staff were drafting a recommendation that will go before city councillors for a final decision soon. The occupier said the group wanted to continue, and he wished to meet with Mr Parker to discuss a mutually agreeable site. Mr Parker said he would be happy to meet with any member of the movement and they should contact his office to make an appointment.
Acting central city area commander Inspector Al Stewart said he understood there were very few genuine protesters left at the Occupy site. He said police had an obligation to investigate any complaint regardless of who it came from. In December police began an investigation into the alleged sexual violation of a teenage girl at the Occupy Christchurch camp. Detective Sergeant Darryl Sweeney said the case was currently being reviewed. A decision on whether charges would be laid could be three to four weeks away.

Trouble at Occupy Christchurch newstalkzb.co.nz 20 January 2012
Trouble in paradise at Occupy Christchurch’s Hagley Park camping site.
The protestors have been on Hospital corner for three months as part of a worldwide movement against corporate greed. One long-term protestor left recently, telling Newstalk ZB it’s mostly just people wanting to camp in the park, and those who cared about the cause have pretty much gone. That’s riled Tina Dockerty who’s the self-appointed camp mum. “That’s when I step in and I pick up their tent and I throw it to the curb and say, get out. You’re either here for the cause or you’re here to learn about the cause. You’re not here because you broke up with your partner and you’ve got nowhere to live,” she says. Ms Dockerty says one or two people have been asked to leave after being caught stealing money from other protestors. Before Christmas a complaint was laid with police over an alleged sexual assault onsite.

Alleged assault at Occupy site – The Press 24/01/2012

But community still thrives, defending O:Chch public image through a ‘Ninja’ gig for Occupy Christchurch by Amanda Palmer – The Press 19/01/2012. Pictures: Assorted Goodies: 100 Days of Occupy Christchurch Gudrun Gisela blogspot

Occupy Christchurch marks 100 days – The Press 24/01/2012

O:Chch camp - The Press 240112

O:Chch camp - The Press 240112


STAYING ON: The Christchurch protesters have vowed to continue their occupation indefinitely, despite Occupy groups in other New Zealand centres being told to leave public spaces.
Occupy Christchurch protesters have celebrated their 100th day of camping in Hagley Park, with no sign of being told to move on. The international movement, protesting against corporate greed, began on October 15, with about 30 tents pitched in South Hagley Park since. The Christchurch protesters have vowed to continue their occupation indefinitely, despite Occupy groups in other New Zealand centres being told to leave public spaces.
The Christchurch City Council said it had still to decide if it would ask Christchurch protesters to leave Hagley Park. Council city environment group general manager Jane Parfitt said any decision on what action to take would rest with councillors, based on a recommendation from council staff. “The council’s legal team is currently receiving information about what is happening in Auckland from their counterparts at Auckland City. Staff have no immediate plans to make a recommendation to council,” she said.
Three Auckland protesters were arrested yesterday when Auckland Council staff and police removed equipment and vehicles from public spaces being used as campsites under the Occupy Auckland banner. Cars, tents and camping gear were removed from sites at Aotea Square, Albert Park, Victoria Park and outside the council’s Queen St premises. The items were removed using statutory powers granted under existing bylaws. “The campsites are affecting council’s ability to take bookings and plan for community events such as this year’s Auckland Lantern Festival,” a council statement said. Last month, the Auckland District Court issued a court injunction requiring protesters to leave Aotea Square and remove the illegal structures they had been living in since October 15.
A Christchurch City Council spokeswoman said yesterday that Occupy Christchurch would not be discussed at the first scheduled council meeting for the year on February 2 as staff were waiting for information. Occupy member Joanna Wildish said the group had not “had any contact with the council at all” during the past three months. About 20 to 30 people were still camping at the site regularly, but the group had a wide support base, she said. The group held a small celebration for reaching 100 days on Sunday, including a barbecue and hui. American musician Amanda Palmer will perform at the Hagley Park campsite today. She has done performances at other Occupy sites around the world.

Political analysis is necessary, like Occupying an impasse: learning from mistakes? – Workers Party .org.nz 26/01/2012 – The movement has essentially divided, from the timidity of petit-bourgeois / liberal student values and mores when mixed with rude lumpen-proletariat need: “Here for the long haul” proved too far, and the other 89% were never attracted. We have just witnessed the archetypical youth trend rise and fall – much like the yo-yos and hula hoops of previous generations – where this one hit older kids with a dazzling pop-politics of no lasting substance, given that it was shallow and abhorred uncomfortable hard edges.

Why I Both Love and Hate the Occupy Movement “A Bittersweet View – While I believe in the Occupy movement and applaud the protesters for bringing key issues to the limelight, there are a few things I hate about it too. For one, I can’t help but question their approach and the way they are organizing (or perhaps not organizing) their protest. I wonder if they’d get better results, more awareness, and more support if they had a bit more of an organized structure. It seems from watching the protests around the world, and even seeing protesters in my own city, that minorities and the underprivileged — the people who need the message the Occupy movement stands for the most — actually suffer the greatest consequences in the Occupy movement..” – Lisa Haisha huffingtonpost.com 16/02/2012

Occupy’s challenge: Reinventing democracy – salon.com/2012/02/27
“Behind the scenes with rogue drummers, homeless, liberals and the black bloc as OWS grapples with self-government ..even if the legitimacy question is solved, it leaves unaddressed issues of representation and accountability.. It would be easy for radicals and reformers to part ways, which is already happening from Philadelphia to Southern California. The tougher part is making the 99 percent more than a slogan and creating new systems of democratic power in which everyone is invested. This will determine if the Occupy movement is a flash in the pan or the dawn of a new era.”

Police dismantle Occupy London camp “..The local authority, the City of London Corporation, confirmed the eviction was under way by bailiffs, backed by police. ‘We regret that it has come to this,’ the corporation said in a statement, asking protesters to move on peacefully. Civic authorities have an eviction order allowing them to remove the activists’ tents, though not the protesters themselves.. Local authorities claim the camp has harmed nearby businesses, caused waste and hygiene problems, and attracted crime and disorder. Last week, a court rejected the protesters’ challenge to the eviction order, ruling that the right to protest did not justify a semi-permanent camp on a public pathway..” – The Press 28/02/2012

Given that in Christchurch, the Mayor would use force to evict Occupy (Press 17/12/2011), could this be happening soon? – Or after the needs of the homeless are seriously and more suitably addressed? Let us practically engage with the housing crisis, that grows on our own sinking doorstep, now!

Occupy camp ‘unsafe’ after dark The Press 06/03/2012

Occupy Christchurch 5 March 2012

Occupy Christchurch 5 March 2012 - The Press


CONFIDENT: Protester Natalie Hughes at the Occupy Christchurch camp opposite Christchurch Hospital on Monday. She says she feels safe in the camp.
Christchurch Hospital staff have been advised not to walk through the Occupy Christchurch camp after dark amid fears of increasing crime and drug use at the protest site. The Occupy Christchurch group began as part of a global movement against corporate greed on October 15, with about 30 tents set up in South Hagley Park since. However, some say the camp has become a venue for drug use and has caused safety problems for staff from the nearby hospital.
Christchurch District Health Board security and emergency planning manager Adam Creed said cars had been broken into and hospital staff had complained about being approached for money while they were walking home at night. “This is all happening opposite the city’s main hospital, and we can see everything from our buildings. We’ve seen some things going on, such as people paying for sexual favours.” Security guards had always been available to escort staff to their cars, and three extra guards had been hired to make sure people did not have to wait, he said. “If someone was to get assaulted or worse while walking home from work, then it would absolutely be our responsibility.” Some people from the Occupy site had been going to the hospital to use toilets and showers, leaving an “absolute mess”, Creed said.
A hospital staff member, who did not want to be identified, said the hospital had told staff not to walk through the park at night because of increased crime, including sexual assaults. Many of her colleagues thought it was disgraceful they now needed escorts to walk through the park. “We have to cower and worry that our car will be still intact when we finish work, or worse that we will not make it safely to our car,” she said.
The mother of a 17-year-old protester said her son had been turned on to drugs by others at the Occupy site about two months ago. “He was an absolutely awesome child; no problems, a church boy.” He began camping there and would be hidden by others if she tried to get him to go home, she said. “If they want to protest, that’s their business. I’m not against that, but I’m against what they’re doing down there now.” Last week police found cannabis in his tent, she said.
Occupy Christchurch member Joanna Wildish said the camp worked hard to maintain a drug and alcohol-free space, but acknowledged that was difficult to control in a public park. Those who drank alcohol on-site were asked to leave, and those who continued to drink or arrive at the site drunk were asked to not return, she said. The fact homeless people and people with drug issues were arriving at the site highlighted the lack of support and community care available for them in Christchurch, she said.
Occupy protester Natalie Hughes, 19, said she was happy to stay, although “some people don’t bring kids any more. The sort of riff-raff have moved on. It’s not an ongoing issue.” Hughes said she felt safe in the camp, where she had stayed on average five nights a week since day 89 of the protest, now up to its 139th day. She was unaware of any significant problems. “Someone was in breach of bail once; that’s all I can recall,” she said.
Christchurch central area commander Inspector Derek Erasmus said police were patrolling the camp daily and about two or three arrests were made there each week involving people who were wanted on warrants or had breached bail conditions.
At least two drugs warrants had been carried out, with one person arrested, and police had found several missing young people at the camp, Erasmus said. “While it is hard to determine who is a genuine protester, we are finding that increasingly the camp is occupied by people who have come to police attention in the past,” he said. About 20 people had been trespassed from the hospital grounds since the camp was established, he said.
A spokeswoman said the city council’s legal team had been analysing legal action taken against Occupy Auckland protesters. A report would be presented to councillors this month.

Response: #Christchurch #NZ #racism #Occupy #ChCh #homeless #housing #OWS Canterbury Public Issues Forum 06/03/2012 + Occupy protests in New Zealand Wikipedia

Latest: The Tenants Protection Association Christchurch Housing Forum of 14 March 2012 heard shocking statistics transforming cheap housing availability during the post-quake city rebuild. Occupy has become temporary housing in this mix already, but the City 16 March says Occupy Christchurch: ‘Enough is enough’:
The Christchurch City Council is considering kicking Occupy Christchurch protesters out of South Hagley Park.
The council will consider whether to take action to remove the protesters and about 30 tents from the park at a meeting on March 22. Mayor Bob Parker said the protesters had been illegally occupying a public space since October. ”I understand that citizens have a right to protest, but in this case they are illegally occupying a site in breach of a bylaw,” he said.
South Hagley Park was governed by the council’s Parks and Reserves Bylaw 2008 that states no person may, without the written permission of an authorised council officer, camp in a reserve unless in an area set aside by the council for camping, or put up a tent or structure of any kind in a reserve. ”As the protesters have not been authorised to camp there, they are committing an offence,” Parker said. He said the council had received several complaints about the protesters from members of the public. ”We must now consider further action. In light of issues raised by other residents, perhaps it’s time to say enough is enough.” He said councils in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin had taken similar action.
In Auckland, a legal ruling against protesters found there was no fundamental human right to camp in a public place without a permit. This ruling satisfied him that the council would not be breaching the Bill of Rights by removing the protesters. Last year, council staff unsuccessfully asked the protesters to move. Parker said Occupy protesters had been informed about the meeting.

Some Thoughts on Occupy L.A. General Assembly, by Victor disoccupy.wordpress.com + The General Assembly and Grassroots Democracy unpermittedla.wordpress.com 3 October 2011 + Occupy calls for a reboot infowars.com 29 February 2012.

Occupy Savvy “Everything Occupy – A Digital Media Library” blog + Mindful Occupy “Rising Up Without Burning Out” zine + Occupy Love .org “The Global (R)evolution of the Heart” film by Velcrow Ripper + The Occupation Party “Occupy Congress” + Interviewed by The Occupied Times ~ of London “OT: What do you make of the Occupy movement? YV: It is the only ray of hope during a particularly dark night.” Professor of economic theory at the University of Athens, Yanis Varoufakis .eu blog + The Occupied Times of London UK

Occucards.Com “educational outreach literature for the movement” US + Occupy Technology .org “lives as a storehouse for technological resources and ideas for the occupy movement” + ” Number does count with the math behind Ocupy – Discover the attendance for every social events [sic]” phone app ocupy.com

How states are preparing for the food shortage future: Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emergency.cdc.gov 16 May 2011

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