By Jane Luscombe and 3 News online staff
Auckland police and security guards attempted to forcibly shut down four of the Occupy protest camps across the city today.
The sites included Aotea Square, 360 Queen St, Victoria Park and Albert Park, police serving occupiers with notices regarding to breach of bylaws which prevent camping.
Three protesters were arrested after clashing with officials who forcibly removed tents.
Ninety police were brought into oversee the council's attempt to shut down the camps.
Security guards working for Auckland Council packed up occupiers' camping gear and piled it in a van. Those still in their tents were given 24 hours to remove their belongings.
But two of the protesters didn't want to let the equipment go. One of them, Malcolm France, has been in the limelight before – best known for the infamous lamington attack on the ACT Party's John Boscawen, nearly three years ago.
He's still making life awkward for authority figures - this time the police. They arrested him for breach of the peace.
Auckland Council says it was enforcing bylaws which ban freedom camping. The occupiers say the removal of their property is theft and they're worried they won't get it back.
"It's just a question of trust, and after what I saw it's just not possible to trust the police," says protester 'Lana'.
It's a trust that was even shakier after occupiers claimed three or four officers were wearing the same badge number: Z557.
When questioned, the officer in charge focused instead on the arrests.
"There's been three arrests," said Insp Mike McIlraith. "Not sure of a detail like that."
- VIDEO: Evicted Auckland occupiers argue freedom of expression
- PHOTOS: Occupy Auckland protesters fight to keep belongings
Later in the day, photos emerged of two officers wearing the same ID number. It is police policy is for each officer to wear their own identification number.
Police have since announced an employment investigation after admitting three officers wore matching ID numbers.
The council's actions were successful only up to a point. The security officers have been told they can't touch the protestors, so as long as the protestors are hanging onto their tents there's little the security officers can do – which meant a stand-off.
While both sides aimed for a peaceful encounter, one occupier resorted to racial abuse of a guard, shouting, "Go back to your island you f**king coconut."
And things turned even uglier when a member of the public voiced his exasperation with the occupation.
By now, one of the protesters who was arrested earlier was back.
"It's illegal for the council to be taking these people's property and it is an offence for the police to be supporting these people because that's theft," said 'Lyn', "so I tried to protect the property and lost."
After more than three hours, security guards headed to another camp in Victoria Park. They cleared all but three tents. Those occupiers say they're tangata whenua and it's a foreshore and seabed protest.
source: newshub archive