Protester takes stand against bullying outside Nelson City Council office

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Anne Smith makes her point clear outside the Nelson City Council office on Pink Shirt Day.

Martin De Ruyter/Stuff

Anne Smith makes her point clear outside the Nelson City Council office on Pink Shirt Day.

Protester Anne Smith, who had an encounter with a Nelson City councillor in March, made a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day outside the council office.

The colourful demonstration on Friday came 10 weeks after Smith, 72, had what Nelson mayor Rachel Reese described as a “distressing interaction” with Nelson City councillor Tim Skinner during an Extinction Rebellion protest at Civic House over the council’s use of the weed-killer glyphosate.

After that March 11 incident with Skinner, which was captured on a council CCTV camera, Smith said she suffered sleepless nights and flashbacks to domestic violence incidents in her early 20s.

Smith had chained herself to a door when the incident happened.

Skinner has said he regretted “trying to manoeuvre her (Smith) away from the door” but said “there was no intent to cause any harm or grief.”

A subsequent police investigation resulted in Skinner being issued “a written formal warning in respect of an alleged assault”.

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* Protester has flashbacks after encounter with Nelson City councillor
* Formal police warning issued to Nelson city councillor
* Police complaint made after councillor’s alleged shoulder charge at protest

Nelson City Council

Nelson City Council CCTV video of an incident involving Nelson City Councillor Tim Skinner and protester Anne Smith outside Civic House.

After the police investigation, Reese said she would be initiating a code of conduct complaint over Skinner’s behaviour and issued a public apology to Smith.

Dressed in pink at her protest site outside Civic House, Smith on Friday said she had subsequently received an invitation from Reese “for her to apologise, but she doesn’t need to apologise – she just needs to act”.

Smith said she had received no information directly about the code of conduct investigation “only what I’ve read in the paper”.

“My question is: If Nelson City Council won’t make a stand, who will?”

Anne Smith says the levels of bullying and domestic violence in New Zealand are shameful.

Martin De Ruyter/Stuff

Anne Smith says the levels of bullying and domestic violence in New Zealand are shameful.

Nelson City Council communications manager Kim Grade said the code of conduct investigation was ongoing.

Pink Shirt Day is a growing annual event that encourages people to “Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying”. Led by the Mental Health Foundation, Pink Shirt Day has been commemorated in New Zealand since 2009.

The event started in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying after a new student was harassed for wearing pink.