A wave is spreading across the Pacific.
POLICE MOVE IN
New Zealand police have arrested more than 50 people, as they attempted to forcefully remove protesters camped outside parliament to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions.
Police moved in on the demonstrators today, who are currently camped inside the Wellington legislature’s grounds — vowing to stay until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Activists chanted the Māori Haka and yelled “hold the line” as they scuffled with a line of police moving to clear the protest camp from the lawns of parliament.
Police moved in using loudhailers to warn a crowd of they faced arrest unless they left the area.
Some aggressive scenes were witnessed, including punches, kicks and manhandling of individuals by multiple officers, amid cries of “this is not democracy”, “shame on you” and “drop the mandate”.
One woman appeared to be dragged out of the group with no clothes on in shocking vision.
Many have expressed outrage online over the use of force by the police on a peaceful crowd.
‘WE WANT FREEDOM!’
The protest, which began on Tuesday and was designed to replicate the Freedom Convoy action by Canadian truckers, attracted demonstrators from all corners of the country. Just as it has in Australia.
The group had arrived in the area ahead of the first speech for the year by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
In the area, hundreds of vehicles plastered with messages such as “give us back our freedom” were parked in streets surrounding parliament, causing disruptions.
Some drove around the city with horns blaring, as more protesters on foot listened to speeches.
Many of the vehicles that blocked central Wellington’s streets moved on within 24 hours, but the atmosphere remains tense, with several hundred activists remaining and vowing to stay “as long as it takes”.
Ardern has told the protesters to “move on”, adding that “they did not represent” the majority view of New Zealanders.
“People have the right to protest but when that tips into affecting business, people’s ability to move, the ability of kids to go to school or the ability of emergency services to move around, obviously the police have to manage that,” she said.
Deputy Prime Minister, Grant Robertson, said Wellington residents’ patience over the disruptions caused by the protests had worn thin and they had called for police to act.
“Roads are blocked in the city, businesses have had to shut, people felt threatened and intimidated by some of the protesters,” he told Radio New Zealand prior to the police operation.
However, this hasn’t deterred protesters, who say they are here for the long haul.
“We’re here as long as it takes,” Auckland resident Sel Currie said.
“It feels like the police are trying to incite violence but it won’t come from us.”
In her first parliamentary speech for the year on Tuesday, Ardern said that the pandemic would not end with the Omicron variant, and New Zealand would have to prepare for more variants of the virus this year.
Ardern’s government has enforced some of the toughest pandemic restrictions for the past two years as the government has tried to keep coronavirus out.
However, despite the expected continuation of indefinite virus warfare, protesters across the Pacific are letting their voices be heard. We are in for some very interesting weeks ahead.
A shout out to all of our NZ brothers and sisters.
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