Simon Oosterman speaking at an Auckland protest against the 2007 New Zealand anti-terror raids
|Known for||Social and political activism|
Simon Oosterman is a New Zealand political activist, trade unionist, and anarchist. He is best known for coordinating the Unite Union campaign Supersizemypay.com which targeted the fast food industry and contributed to the abolition of youth rates, a $12 minimum wage (among other results) and the world's first Starbucks strike, and for his involvement in the World Naked Bike Ride on which he was arrested for indecent exposure.
Oosterman grew up in Ramarama, an area south of Drury, and on a farm in Rerewhakaaitu, south of Rotorua. Simon and his siblings, twin brother Paul, older brother Jonathan and sister Kate, were put through private schools by their mother Allison, a journalist and now lecturer of communications at AUT University in Auckland. She told Metro magazine that she wanted the best education for them and "remarkably" was able to send them to King's School (Jonathan), Southwell School (Paul & Simon) and King's College (Jonathan, Paul & Simon) and St Cuthbert's College (Kate) despite being on her own after she and her husband separated when the twins were nine months old.
He has been a prominent animal rights and anti-genetic engineering activist, and has been involved in climate change issues. Simon Oosterman is credited with organising the successful 'Supersizemypay.com' campaign for the world's first Starbucks strike, as well as coining the name and designing its website.
Oosterman's first public protest was in 2003 with a week-long sit-in in downtown Auckland outside the US embassy. He, his brother Jonathan, and other activists were protesting the US actions in Iraq. That same year he was involved in an anti-vivisection protest in Christchurch where he lay in front of a bus carrying scientists. He was arrested but received diversion because this was a first offence.
In February 2005, Oosterman received worldwide attention when he was arrested at the start of the Auckland World Naked Bike Ride for refusing to put on underwear. He was covered in thick blue bodypaint at the time. In court he pleaded not guilty to the charge of indecent exposure. To protest this charge, he stripped off in front of the courthouse with three other activists wrapped in a banner reading “STOP indecent exposure to vehicle emissions”. He then ran into the court naked, but put his clothes back on for the plea hearing. The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence.
On 22 March 2005, he and other protestors publicly complained about police brutality while passively resisting arrest for obstructing a footpath, following a peace demonstration that went inside an ANZ bank. In May 2006 he filed papers at the Auckland district court seeking NZ$50,000 in damages from the New Zealand police after being pepper sprayed at a January 2005 protest against an alleged genetic engineering experiment outside the Forest Research Institute in Rotorua.
On 23 July 2006, Simon Oosterman got on the roof above the footpath at the US Consulate in Auckland, New Zealand and lowered the American Flag to half mast. Oosterman said he lowered the flag to half mast in remembrance of the 300 innocent civilians killed by Israel's attack on Lebanon. When Oosterman came down police attempted to arrest Oosterman with protesters coming to his defence. Simon was "freed" by the crowd but later handed himself into police. Oosterman said that young school girls were pushed and kicked by police, some thrown to the ground. Oosterman was charged with disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence and escaping lawful custody but later won his court case and had the charges dropped.
On 2 July 2008, Judge Chris McGuire awarded Oosterman $5,000 damages and $25,000 court costs saying police actions had not been reasonable, but rejected Mr Oosterman's claim of assault saying the officer's actions did not quite meet the necessary "high threshold of blameworthiness".
In July 2007, Mr Oosterman, who runs a web hosting service for community groups, was forced to remove a Save Happy Valley Coalition spoof annual report of Solid Energy's environmental record which included a logo of the state-owned enterprise for infringement of their copyright and trademark.
He was involved in a protest in support of Iranian hunger striker Ali Panah at Mt Eden Prison. He, along with six other people, was arrested and was due to appear in court on September 3.
- Farrell-Green, Simon (October 2006). "Megaphone Man". Metro Magazine. MSN New Zealand Ltd. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- "Worlds First Starbucks Strike, Auckland". Scoop. 2004-11-22. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
- "Activists Appear Naked At Court". Scoop. 2005-02-17. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
- Eames, David (2005-03-21). "Protesters say police looking for trouble". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
- "Police Taken to Court Over Protest Pepper Spraying". Global Peace and Justice Auckland. 2006-05-09. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
- "Marchers allege police brutality". Newstalk ZB. 2006-07-23. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- "Pepper sprayed activist to take police to court over provocateur". NZ Indymedia. 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- "$5000 for protester sprayed by police". NZ Herald. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
- "Solid Energy fights spoof report in court". NZ Herald. 2008-07-26. Retrieved 2008-12-21.