Marauding students surround police

   Police and students clash at the University of Auckland after the protest got out of control.

(New Zealand) Student protesters chanted "we've got the power" yesterday as they surrounded Auckland central police station after earlier shutting down Queen St.

Police stayed inside as protesters knocked on the station's doors and chanted "free all political prisoners (their colleagues)". In all, 43 protesters were arrested. The police eventually gave up trying to control the spontaneous march through the central city.

The protest was against the Budget and Finance Minister Bill English after education cuts announced in last week's Budget, which limit eligibility for students' allowances and require graduates to repay loans at a rate of 12 per cent of their income rather than 10.

Earlier attempts by police to corral the protesters had led to skirmishes near Symonds St. A group of officers became separated as they tried to make arrests and wrestled on the ground with protesters as jeering crowds surged around them. As a university lecturer appealed for calm other protesters threw shoes at police and tipped off their hats.

After marching through Albert Park the students shut down parts of Queen St twice during peak hour traffic. Several hundred ran through Mid City mall to evade police, who then backed off for the rest of the protest. Students pushed their way into the lobby of SkyCity casino, chanting "f*** the casino", as staff rushed to steer them back outside.

The march culminated with protesters sitting crosslegged on Queen St across from the Town Hall. Traffic was blocked for 30 minutes as protesters chanted "Bill English, we're all Greeks".


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