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Archive for Sunday, December 18, 2005

Santas go on rampage in nation’s largest city

December 18, 2005

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— A group of 40 people dressed in Santa Claus costumes, many of them drunk, rampaged through New Zealand's largest city, robbing stores and assaulting security guards, police said today.

The rampage, dubbed "Santarchy" by local newspapers, began early Saturday afternoon when the men, wearing ill-fitting Santa costumes, threw beer bottles and urinated on cars from an Auckland overpass, said Auckland Central Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty.

She said the men then rushed through a central city park, overturning garbage containers, throwing bottles at passing cars and spraying graffiti on buildings.

One man climbed the mooring line of a cruise ship before being ordered down by the captain. Other Santas, objecting when the man was arrested, attacked security staff, Hegarty said.

The remaining Santas entered a downtown convenience store and carried off beer and soft drinks.

"They came in, said 'Merry Christmas' and then helped themselves," store owner Changa Manakynda said.

Alex Dyer, a spokesman for the group, said Santarchy was a worldwide movement designed to protest the commercialization of Christmas.

Three people were arrested and charged with drunkenness and disorderly behavior.

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