Protests in Te Puke as part of the international action to raise awareness of a man wanted on war crimes has caused thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to local businesses.
A group of Te Puke youths have placed posters, stickers and used chalk to illustrate their support for the world-wide movement ‘Make Kony Famous’ on council buildings and businesses in the township.
Businesses, left with thousands of dollars of damage from the protests, will now meet with the youths, who have since come forward and admitted to the action, on Sunday to hopefully resolve the issue.
Te Puke Community Board chairperson Carol Gunn says the youths basically vandalised the town causing damage to council assets and personal property.
“It also disturbed and upset customers.
“We are really proud of our main street and to come in and see it vandalised and the sad thing was it was a group of Christian youth and they didn’t think through the consequences of their actions.”
She says she is disappointed that parents also knew about the movement and did not stop the youths.
“They didn’t impart the social responsibility of what they did and what it could have done to our community.”
The protests were in support of an American film-maker making a documentary on Joseph Kony the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, Africa.
The documentary alleges Kony was involved in more than 30,000 children abductions, forcing young boys to become child soliders and murder their parents, while forcing young girls to work as sex slaves.
The documentary claims this has been going on for almost 30 years.
Kony is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court, but has so far evaded capture.
Focus Te Puke office administrator Lydia Wilkinson says some businesses targeted have lost income and revenue because of it.
“There’s going to be a public forum focused on getting some feedback from retailers as to the costs and looking at remuneration and just what has happened with the posters being put around town.”
Lydia says youth have come forward and admitted they were responsible for placing the poster around the town.
“They’ve apologised and gone out a couple days later and fixed it up but there are on-going costs.
“It (the posters) pulled paint off retailers’ walls.”
She says the meeting is about fixing those issues and getting those responsible to take accountability.”
Te Puke Senior Sergeant Deirdre Lack says those responsible have made an apology and have also been advised to attend the meeting.
She says police will be looking at reparation with input by those affected, so the group can avoid prosecution and to remedy the situation.
The meeting is being held at the Settlers Lounge at the Memorial Hall on Sunday at 2pm.
Te Puke Police are asking people with complaints about the protestors to contact the Te Puke Station.