21 April 2014

Goodbye Occupy?

14/12/2011 9:39:00 a.m.

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THE Occupy Wellington camp has been officially disbanded, but there are new projects on the horizon for the movement’s protesters, according to Richard Bartlett, a member of the protest communications committee.
Two months after they set up their tents, many protesters packed up and went home on Monday and a statement on the Occupy Wellington website announced that the occupation had ended. But a group of protesters still remains, steadfastly refusing to go anywhere.
Bartlett says the official position is that the Civic Square camp has been disbanded, a decision that was made by “the vast majority” of protesters who agreed it was time to refocus energy away from the camp.
“The camp was never intended to be permanent. I do not represent the people who remain there exercising their right to protest,” says Bartlett, “It’s tricky because the issue of whether or not to remain in a public space is one where you’re never going to get 100% agreement.”
The movement is now looking for a permanent space in which to set up a community resource centre. They will hold continuing education courses, termed ‘free university’, and aim to set up a functioning ‘Bank of Ideas’, says Bartlett.
“The Bank of Ideas is about better ways of doing business. We aim to share concepts, techniques, concepts and networks between everyone from the most disenfranchised to corporate heads,” he says.
Bartlett says representing a diverse collection of individuals has been challenging as the majority of people involved in the Occupy Wellington movement were not actually living on site, and those who are present in Civic Square and speak to the media are “the most disenfranchised.”
“Some are not the most well-informed,” says Bartlett.
Meanwhile the Wellington City Council is working out what to do with those protesters remaining in Civic Square.
“The protest has been vague since day once and it’s becoming even more vague,” says Richard MacLean of council communications, “We had trouble before in getting a coherent response from the people at Occupy Wellington but now it’s doubly difficult because we’re getting two sets of people telling us they’re in charge and they’re telling us different things.”
The council is waiting for a court judgment from Auckland regarding the Occupy Auckland protest, at which time senior council managers here will decide a course of action. MacLean says the council does not want to waste ratepayers’ money on legal action when a similar case is being tested in Auckland.

The court judgment is due within the next few days.
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