Destiny Church protest: Brian Tamaki supporters barricade entrance to Mt Eden prison

Brian Tamaki was arrested Monday morning for violating his bail conditions, supporters protesting outside the Mt. Eden Correctional Facility (01/17/2022). Video / David Fisher / Brett Phibbs

Supporters of Brian Tamaki barricaded the entrance to Mt Eden Correctional Center on Thursday night in a standoff with prison officials over allegations of withheld hygiene products.

Facebook Live video showed a group of Destiny Church followers lined up at the entrance to the facility, linking arms while preventing vehicles from entering or exiting the site.

A police officer asked fans for permission to let a number of cars pass through their barricade to respond to police calls.
A police officer asked fans for permission to let a number of cars pass through their barricade to respond to police calls.

The Facebook post said the issue was with Tamaki’s “hygiene items”. The post also accused prison and police officials of “lying” to the Tamaki family.

“The family have been informed that Apostle Brian Tamaki has received his personal hygiene items as discussed and agreed,” the post read. “However, when the family received one of their phone calls from Apostle Brian, it was revealed that this did not happen.

Church officials advise that because the jail/police lied about their actions and still haven’t honored their agreement, disruptive action would be taken in protest. The barricade will remain until they receive a call directly from Apostle Tamaki notifying that the deal has been acted correctly.”

After a few hours of negotiation between Tamaki’s son-in-law, Caine Warren, the police and prison officials, the group disbanded.

Supporters of Brian Tamaki block the entrance to the Mt Eden remand center.
Supporters of Brian Tamaki block the entrance to the Mt Eden remand center.

Disconnecting the live video from Facebook after speaking to the prison warden, Warren said: “It’s a successful outcome. Obviously they have challenges within their internal organization.

“The stand and the vigil continue.

“Thank you so much for listening. It was peaceful and that’s how it’s going to stay.”

Tamaki was remanded to Mt Eden Correctional Center on Monday and faces charges of allegedly breaching Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The 63-year-old had already been charged three times for his part in the Auckland Domain lockdown protests. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including allegations that he violated the conditions of his bail.

Just after 8:30 p.m., a police officer told protesters that the prison warden was on his way to their home to discuss the demands with supporters.

A policeman asked the supporters for permission to break their human chain so that a number of cars could pass to respond to police calls.

Police at Mt Eden remand center.
Police at Mt Eden remand center.

Supporters of Brian Tamaki tie arms as they block the entrance to the Mt Eden remand center.
Supporters of Brian Tamaki tie arms as they block the entrance to the Mt Eden remand center.

A policeman with an image of a toiletry bag shown to Tamaki supporters.
A policeman with an image of a toiletry bag shown to Tamaki supporters.

In the video streamed live on Facebook, a police officer could be seen discussing hygiene items with a member of the group, saying the situation was being resolved.

A police spokesman said they were monitoring the behavior of those present at the rally outside Mt Eden Correctional Centre.

“Police recognize the legal right to protest,” the spokesperson said.

In a statement after the live stream ended, police said no one had been arrested.

“Police were monitoring the gathering and there were no arrests or issues.”

In a statement, a Corrections spokesperson said they were unable to comment on the specific handling of individual people.

“All those incarcerated are managed in accordance with the provisions set out in the Corrections Act 2004 and our international obligations for the treatment of prisoners.

“Everyone who is incarcerated has the minimum rights set out in the Corrections Act 2004.”

Police talk to supporters of Brian Tamaki.
Police talk to supporters of Brian Tamaki.

The spokesperson said defendants and sentenced inmates receive a number of items, including meals, clothing, essential health, sanitary and hygiene products.

“In addition, people can purchase produce and groceries through the prisoner canteen, and can have personal goods sent to them approved by friends and family.

“We respect people’s right to protest, but we are aware of the impact on our neighbors and regret any inconvenience to them,” the spokesperson said.

Tamaki will likely be separated from other inmates for 14 days and regularly tested for Covid-19, along with all newly arrived prisoners at Mt Eden Correctional Center.

He will also not be allowed to receive in-person visits from family or friends, or legal representation, while in detention.

This is because Mt Eden prison is under the second stage of a three tier protection framework in which prisons operate.

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