A massive crowd of protesters took to New Zealand’s national parliament to demand an end to government lockdowns and vaccine mandates, with scuffles reportedly breaking out between demonstrators and police, as well as journalists.
Some 3,000 people showed up in Wellington early on Tuesday to protest the government’s Covid-19 policies, local media reported, with the crowd starting its march from the capital’s Te Ngakau Civic Square before heading north to the Parliament building, commonly known as the Beehive for its shape.
Videos circulating online showed the size of the protest, with many holding signs and shouting slogans like “It’s a big deal!” “Freedom” “Kiwis are not lab rats,”We reject vaccine lockdowns.
A PA system was also used to address the audience at specific points. “We have come here today on the grounds of parliament to say enough is enough,” apparently in reference to the country’s pandemic policies.
Trevor Mallard, Speaker of the House, stated that the large demonstration in Wellington provoked the most severe security response to parliament since 1984 when he was elected. Prime Minister Jacinda ardern also spoke out in support. “was not representative of the vast bulk of New Zealanders.”
Massive protest marches from Wellington to Parliament! There are thousands of Kiwis just like you who want your freedoms back. Below are some sounds and sights. THREAD???? #nzpolpic.twitter.com/FxkW0EuqdU
— Zeitgeist (@ZeitgeistNZ) November 8, 2021
According to Stuff, there were also about a dozen protestors in New Plymouth. The Guardian, however, reports that 50 more demonstrators arrived at Auckland’s outskirts and blocked traffic for over an hour. For two months the city, which is a large metropolis, was under tight control, with travel restrictions.
Officer was “bitten by an as yet unidentified protester”Auckland police stated that law enforcement had stopped the protest in Auckland. “the actions of protesters required our staff to physically intervene to move them off the road”Protests like these pose a problem “unnecessary risk to our staff who are simply trying do their part in preventing the spread of Covid-19.”
Also, Stuff also had a photographer who captured the action in Wellington. “grabbed and pushed by protesters who yelled anti-media abuse at him,”According to the outlet, It is unclear if any arrests were made at any of Tuesday’s demonstrations.
Also available at massnews.com
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The protests follow the announcement of vaccine mandates late last month which are likely to affect some 40% of New Zealand’s workforce, expanded from a previous 15% in a plan to end a cycle of lockdowns and get 90% of the population inoculated. The new mandates were defended by Prime Minister Ardern, who said they would be met. “play a big part in helping to minimize the spread of the virus in the highest-risk venues by reducing the potential for Covid to enter the business in the first place.” Also part of the plan, the government has required anyone visiting certain high-traffic businesses to present vaccine passports to prove they’ve been immunized, another hotly contested measure.
With just over 5million inhabitants, the country has one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 infection in the world. There have been around 8,000 cases since last year and only 32 deaths. Johns Hopkins University data shows that 67% have been fully vaccinated.
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