A show of force in Wellington this afternoon.
New Zealand Police have launched on anti-mandate protesters today in dramatic scenes, attempting to finally end a sitting that has disrupted the country’s capital for the past three weeks.
Large numbers of police — including the riot squad — arrived this afternoon and soon began dismantling an encampment set up outside Parliament, while also towing away vehicles.
A fire broke out among some tents, sending smoke billowing over the site before it was doused by police, a witness said, as officers worked to completely clear the grounds.
Authorities used loudspeakers to warn protesters they faced arrest for trespassing on parliament grounds if they refused to leave.
Police said that 60 people were arrested and they had “gained significant ground” in their initial effort to clear the protesters, with many tense and violent scenes in the process.
Pepper spray was used against some protesters.
At least three officers were injured, police said.
Protesters used fire extinguishers, paint-filled projectiles, homemade plywood shields and pitchforks as weapons and a cord was set up as a trip wire, police said.
At least 10 children were seen within the protest area and police said ‘they had concerns for their wellbeing’.
“Those protesters illegally occupying parliament grounds and surrounding streets have been given ample opportunity to leave. It is time for them to go,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference after a police action earlier today.
Ardern said the protests had been fuelled by misinformation and conspiracy theories.
The protest began as a stand against COVID-19 vaccine mandates but was later joined by groups calling for an end to all pandemic restrictions.
Taking inspiration from truckers’ demonstrations in Canada, hundreds of protesters have been blocking streets with trucks, cars and motorcycles in a protest that has led to violent clashes.
“We are fighting for our standard of life. We want our sovereign right to our bodies,” said Kate Siegert, who is unvaccinated, as she watched protesters move forward to block police advances.
Ms Siegert, who has made several trips from her home in Auckland to join the protest, said she lost her IT job because of mandates requiring vaccination for those who work in the health industry.
Many have expressed outrage online over the behaviour of police throughout the afternoon.
Australia and New Zealand are truly the test grounds for techno-fascism.
Stay strong, brothers and sisters across the pond.
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