- Date published:
10:52 am, February 20th, 2022 - 72 comments
Categories: covid-19, Deep stuff, human rights - Tags:
Long term protester speaking here.
I recall clearly as a 19 year old who majored in Springbok Protests 101 in my second year at University that time when the protest marshalls had us sit down in the middle of Queen and Wellesley Streets when we were marching downtown. Suddenly the police who accompanied us became animated. We stayed down as the rest of the march walked past us. When the end of the march had gone past the Police then got into formation ready to clear us. With some personal relief the marshalls then had us stand up and continue. But clearly they were preparing us for future protests where blocking main roads would be an option.
Future protests had people being willing to block roads or motorways but the kaupapa was always clear. You should only do this if you were prepared to get arrested and charged. I always deferred as I was either a law student or a lawyer. Convictions are not career enhancing. When I retire I plan to celebrate by engaging in direct action protesting about climate change. But I have no expectation of preferential treatment. Civil disobedience includes the likelihood of arrest.
My frustration about the current Wellington protest is that they are oblivious to consequence. At protests that I attended we would never dream that not only could we occupy significant public areas but we would expect to park on the road outside. This is absolutely bonkers.
This is where the police have failed. Not insisting on the roads being cleared on day one has led to this situation where more and more protestors think they can park right outside and join the fun.
The planning and organisation suggests significant resources are available. I have never seen a protest where free food trucks have miraculously appeared, where one of the organisations has used multiple commercial billboards to publish its misinformation and where a law firm is on retainer to persuade a victim of protestor violence that .
And while I am at it can I say how deeply dishonest the framing by the right has been. Any attempted equivalence between Trevor Mallard’s playing of Barry Manilow with reported instances of death threats, Nuremburg references, abuse of media and the public and defacing of the people’s house of representatives does not stand scrutiny. And how there can be meaningful dialogue with a group calling for the overflow of the last election result is beyond my comprehension.
*looks around protest*
*sees ivermectin signage*
*sees evangelical church leaders*
*sees some people from the alt-right*
*sees sovereign citizen flags*
*sees gleeful signage about public executions*
*sees a nazi*
“are we… are we the bad guys?”
— David Farrier (@davidfarrier) February 18, 2022
Ad has in an impassioned post urged us to understand and sympathise with the protestors. I get that. We have all been through a horrendous two years. Overseas this has been accompanied by thousands of deaths. Here we have been lucky. But saying this repeatedly is carrying less weight.
As I watch many ordinary kiwis expression of concern I get that they are distressed. This is not so much against the mandates but against Covid. They want Covid to be gone. And when they win life will be back to normal. If only it was so simple.
As Darien Fenton points out there are many, many more ordinary kiwis who have been vaccinated, who socially distance and who look after each other. These are the real heroes. This is why our Covid response has been so extraordinary.
I get the protestors’ passion, at least those who are not actual nazis who can go to hell. They want the past two years finished and they want to get back to normal life. If only it was this simple …
Mandy Hager summarised the current situation perfectly:
I have sympathy for [some of the protesters], and there is no doubt many are offloading a lifetime of feeling on the outer, many (particularly Māori and Pasifika, beneficiaries and the lowest-paid) with real grievances about the way they’ve been treated by state institutions. They’ve felt powerless and see the Covid response as taking away what little personal power they have left, much as we all do at this time. And yes, some have lost their jobs to mandates, which is tragic on several levels.
But I do believe their grievances and distrust have been manipulated – and I wonder if they realise that the people driving the worst of this don’t give a damn about them, using them as fodder for the bigger, far more scary scenario currently playing out here and around the world: a desire to end progressive left-leaning politics and social democracies, and, in the case of our PM, a misogynistic hatred for being told what to do by a savvy young woman.
Sadly, all this has little to do with vaccines. Instead, as we’ve seen in the US, anti-vax views are hijacked to promote a dangerous far-Right agenda, exploiting Aotearoa’s democratic freedoms to promote an anti-democratic movement from overseas. It’s deeply concerning to see such ugliness slipping, virus-like, through our borders. As with Covid, we must calmly quarantine it for the good of all.
This activity meets a broad definition of an attempted coup. Impeding the working of the people’s house of representatives from functioning properly, threatening to hang politicians, attacking media and demanding that the duly elected Prime Minister resigns is really crazy stuff.
Respect to the long term protester.
May you go feral upon retirement.
They're wrong, insofar as the govt must prioritise public health preservation during a pandemic and their expert advice strategy implementation has worked.
This activity meets a broad definition of an attempted coup.
Too broad really. Elements in the rabble seem dead keen on it but you can't generalise to the whole thing. No gallows has been erected onsite!
My frustration about the current Wellington protest is that they are oblivious to consequence.
Yeah, interesting that. As if they are too desperate to think downstream, huh? So why not respond to them on that basis? Why assume that the PM has no agency?
have you been following Te Taipo on twitter? It's pretty clear what's been going on behind the scenes but accessible online to see, for months. How close we are to an actual coup remains to be seen I guess, but it would make sense to take the threat seriously before it gets to that point.
I think you are correct in this, weka.
It's all cuddles, till it isn't and intentions have been clearly articulated.
I don't do twitter. If there's a lethal force operating within the protest and the SIS isn't onto it already then the minister responsible ought to ask them why not.
After all, such intelligence-gathering is basic to govt ops. Evaluation of threat is domestic terrorism 1.01 right? A journo could wake up to this reality and ask the PM about it at any press conference the PM has. What, you mean she isn't having any?? Rhetorical question. She could be doing zen politics. Saying to herself I am/not the PM today, I am/not just a mother to my daughter today. The wave function collapses the instant a decision is made one way or the other…
Given what we know from recent history it is inconceivable that security agencies don't have undercover operatives placed within the protest.
true. But we also know how they dropped the ball with the Chch shooter.
I think that a solo operative, with minimal support in this country – is a completely different kettle of fish to a set of NZ-based (though possibly overseas influenced) groups which have been openly agitating on various publicly accessible platforms for months.
I'm quite sure that the Intelligence agencies have been monitoring closely – especially with known radical agitators (Alps et al) in the mix.
yes, and, they also weren't looking at white supremacists. I'm sure that's changed but my point is about cultural bias.
You don't need a twitter account, you don't even need to go to twitter. I embedded his twitter feed in today's general Convoy protest post.
Of course the SIS will be monitoring and tracking this. I'm talking about the rest of NZ understanding, having a response, preparing. If shit goes sideways, many people will be affected.
read the whole threat by @sanjanah. He was featured in the Newsroom article near the start of the protest. This is important stuff, it's complex and it shows that there is much more going on than just a bunch of rabbitholers camping at parliament.
My apologies, weka – I just posted this link on Convoy Protest before I read this column.
Absolutely appalled by what is written here!
Pretty bad ay.
I think you are probably correct. And I think the longer the government refuses to engage with the protesters and at least appear to be listening, the more likely that some of the crazy fringe elements could up the ante to get more attention through some sort of terrorist style action, or assassination attempt
It would be a very sad day for NZ if things ever get that far.
the devil makes work for idle hands
especially male ones…
That these protests have been hijacked by fervent fantasy anti-communists using classic Bolshevist vanguardism (secretly infiltrate and seize control of a wider political movement, seek conflict and and use agent provocateurs to radicalise your supporters) is yet another irony probably lost a group of people who most likely think Lenin is an icebar in Queenstown.
The police hierarchy have been such miserable failures it beggars belief. it is clear Coster has alienated police's hardliners just when they were needed. Policing by consent must always be a plump velvet glove concealing a well advertised iron fist. Their thinking is so rooted in "business as usual" in the face of a far right attempt to instigate an insurrection that they seem unable to conceptualise outcomes other than routine BAU ones. Already I am seeing lots of calls for counter resistance movements to mobilise. What if 2000 angry counter-demonstrators turn up? What can the cops do then? They've ceded all authority and meekly surrendered the states monopoly on power, and the longer this goes on the possibility of the anarchy of two mobs going at it grows larger every day.
' When I retire I plan to celebrate by engaging in direct action protesting about climate change.'
Well at least…'time is not ..of the esscence!
One day ,you too will be free of those establishment …'handcuffs'.
Here's something,that may be of interest to you.
The case that stopped the tour: How a group of lawyers stopped the All Blacks from playing in apartheid South Africa | Stuff.co.nz
If for a moment we put aside all the other stuff (and there's plenty) then the basic question about a protest against mandates is … will it make them end faster?
Imagine if the protest was the usual "one day with speeches, meet MPs, boo some of them, go home". The government would say the usual platitudes and carry on. They would be reviewing the same health evidence as now, getting the recommendations AND coming under political pressure to announce a date for some changes.
Shifting their policy due to media commentary and business demands – and probably internal polling? They've done that often enough (MIQ, trans-Tasman bubble, etc). It was always likely to happen soon.
But now it's all changed. The political pressure to end the mandates has been swamped by the political pressure not to cave to the behaviour we have seen. That is the narrative now, and the protesters wrote it.
So yes, they are wrong … if the goal really is to end the mandates.
the basic question about a protest against mandates is … will it make them end faster?
Good question. Do protests actually work? As you suggest, it depends on the extent of public & political sympathy with their aspirations.
The political pressure to end the mandates has been swamped by the political pressure not to cave to the behaviour we have seen.
This too shall pass. As someone who is triple-jabbed I naturally have supported the mandate strategy. At around 95% of the public double-jabbed, the strategy seems to have worked. Job done! So why hasn't the govt signalled the end of the mandate strategy? Do they see political advantage in tolerating the protest??
So why hasn't the govt signalled the end of the mandate strategy?
Perhaps they had a draft proposal, or straws in the wind, or whatever. Now we'll never know. No government, of any party, would signal a change and then say "look, this protest outside the window, they didn't make us do it, we were always planning to, it's just a coincidence". They would be a laughing-stock.
So as I said, the protest is achieving the opposite of its intentions, if it's only about mandates. Of course, we know it's not.
They would be a laughing-stock.
That depends on whatever consensus exists between police & govt, which points to the elephant in the room – the police minister – which all sides continue to ignore.
The commissioner seems to believe a negotiating strategy is appropriate to the situation. He told Jack Tame he is being advised by his executive. I asked onsite here this morning if anyone knew what it is – no response so far. Anyway, this executive, presumably, and the police minister, presumably, have achieved concord with the Labour caucus on how to handle the protest.
With this almighty consensus driving the strategy, we can expect negotiations to proceed, right? Now that a semblance of a leadership group has been flushed out of the protest, I mean. So, if the commissioner produces a negotiated agreement, will everyone else fall about laughing? I suspect relief would surpass the laughter urge within most people…
It may well be the narrative now, but I doubt the protesters wrote it. It was evident by the amplifying of any bad behaviour or disruption.
It seems there has been a real concentrated effort to paint these protesters in a bad light to help us get to this narrative.
I believe this would have come from up stairs. It gives Jacinda another line/card to play for not engaging.
I'd say the Government will be utilising all its allies to combat this protest. Iwi leaders, Mayors, business leaders, unions and those in the media etc
They are wrong for on one hand saying they are fighting for freedom but on the other accepting the presence of Destiny Church and the New Conservatives.
Both organisations if in power would take away the freedom of Women over their bodies in terms of abortion and take away the freedom of the LGBQT+ community to marry and have the same rights as others.
That is even before you think about how they accept Neo – Nazis in their so called Freedom group.
"Any attempted equivalence between Trevor Mallard’s playing of Barry Manilow with reported instances of death threats…"
Who has drawn that comparison? The behaviour of sections of the protest crowd has been totally unacceptable, but Mallard's behaviour was petulant and frankly stupid.
"The planning and organisation suggests significant resources are available. "
Indeed – as I posted some days ago, this group have been seriously underestimated.
I love a good protest and have been on many of them. I have been arrested on prime time television. There is nothing wrong with a little civil disobedience.
I can even sympathise with (some of) the protesters, even though I think they are wrong.
What is not acceptable is their tolerance of the intolerable. There are people there advocating murder and civil insurrection. There are people abusing passers-by. The inconvenience to people living and working nearby has gone beyond reasonable.
At other protests there have always been hotheads, and agents-provocateurs. It is up to the protest organisers to neutralise them. Usually they were easy to pick out and marshals would spend time talking to then so they couldn't be yelling, and standing in front of their placards. Mostly they pack up and leave.
By ignoring them the (few, many?) who do not agree with them are letting the protest be about them. It was always clear if the message drifted into extreme territory, and we couldn't control it we would go home and take our protest with us.
" I have never seen a protest where free food trucks have miraculously appeared, where one of the organisations has used multiple commercial billboards to publish its misinformation and where a law firm is on retainer to persuade a victim of protestor violence that ."
The Canadian protests/occupation have been revealed to have been paid for (in the main) by people of the USA.
Who is paying for this shit??
Dunno, but there seems co-ordination of messaging and talking points from other Convoys, and some of the signage is professionally produced, it is not cheap. My son works at a sizeable Auckland digital printing company and says there has been no Convoy stuff through yet, though they did some “Tractor & Ute” stuff, and one of the bosses is anti vaccination.
The Cannabis Referendum showed US money was here in the “Nope to Dope” campaign via prohibitionist group SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), who shared offices and ISP with Family First and spent thousands of dollars more than allowed by being technically separate entities.
Disgraced Natzo MP Mike Sabin used US resources also with his “Methcon” anti drug enterprise.
Matthew Tukaki has started an online safe end the protest site.
what's he suggesting exactly?
From Matthew's video:
Good on him!
They are only wrong if you don't think mandates are stupid when we have about 95% vaxxed.
It's also about keeping non-compliant people away from others. The 5% anti-vaxxers are not only likely to more affected by Covid, they also are anti-mask and anti social distancing.
They are pandemic deniers and need to be separated from sane people until this is all over.
I' and everyone I cae about is vaccinated. I don't care if some idiot sitting 10 feet away having a beer isn't.
Edit: Actually let me add to that.
I don’t care if some weirdo unvaxed person wants to buy a coffee in front of me. Fish and Chips for their kids etc etc. It is stupid.
Why is it so scary for you in all places, yet about 50 people in a supermarket. 6 in a dairy. 10 in a big service station.
I don't spend all day inside a supermarket with the unvaccinated.
Unvacccinated people don't spend all day trying to buy a Subway, but the govt says they can't buy one. Or a coffee to take away from a cafe or a pint in a pub.
Sweet for them to wander round a supermarket for 45 minutes fondling fruit, or coupghing over fuel pump handles though.
Because that is how stupid the current govts mandates are.
…wander round a supermarket…
Stumbled into a conversation with some front line Foodstuffs employees the other day. They have sanitation protocols for fending off Te Virus that can only be described as bizarre. Even they could see it was largely pantomime..but they need their jobs.
There's something rather sadistic in making workers do totally weird stuff in order to keep their meagre wages.
Like gaslighting, but worse.
It is odd eh.
With all these type of serious things it always ends up being the people in the weakest position that end up having to take the most risk………..While also being paid the shittiest.
A much loved immunocompromised family member would be unlikely to survive a covid infection. As a family we use the Swiss cheese model to manage their aggregate risk and that entails careful management of contacts.
The mandate helps minimise potential contact with pro-pl—ers.
So presumably you don't let them go to the supermarket, dairies or service stations?
Why not just add cafes, takeaways and pubs?
RWNJ projects lol
You said you manage their seggregration.
So you don't?
Then what is the issue with cafes, takeaways and pubs if they rock on down to the supermarket and dairy?
It's also about keeping non-compliant people away from others. The 5% anti-vaxxers are not only likely to more affected by Covid, they also are anti-mask and anti social distancing.
They are pandemic deniers and need to be separated from sane people until this is all over.
You would have us all rounded up and detained, Muttonbird?
In some kind of camp?
While you're working out the details… can you please at least acknowledge that there are some who have had the Pfizer product who have experienced adverse effects that are more than a 'sore arm and flu like symptoms'?
Including me. I spent yesterday morning at PA Hospital in Brisbane getting a CT scan and being evaluated by a neurologist.
The key thing she said was … I do not want to label this as it would have consequences for both of us.
Shit, RL. I have family who…enough said. There's a number of us lionesses…
All the very best.
Who do you believe is exerting that pressure?
Hope you're ok.
Sorry to hear that, RL … Myocarditis ? … Renal / Kidneys ?
Probably a TIA or Bells Palsy. Also BP is much higher than ever before. For the moment I am OK and chirpy enough, but plans will have to change. Its not clear where this will go for the moment, but stressing about it will not help.
As I am sure you know full well given your own story.
You have probably had myocarditis or a related nerve reaction, a proven side effect. Very scary. Get a different vaccine if you need a booster. Good wishes for a recovery.
This is why some of us are protesting against the mandates. Young people…the side effects, especially heart issues… are much worse and have been routinely dismissed by doctors. ( The medical profession with their dismissals and their cowardice have lost the trust of these people. Perhaps forver.) Worse after the second dose. Scared shitless to have a booster, and if mandated in their workplace…what then?
If they can't work…they will lose their home. For most… trying another 'vaccine is not an option…same tech, different package.
Omicron has changed the terrain. It's time to end the mandates now.
For the sake of our kids.
How many of the immunocompromised are the anti – vax/anti-mandators prepared to sacrifice for their "freedoms"
Is one too many? – I believe so.
Sorry to hear that, be well.
A moment to consider the death toll from various countries:
New Caledonia: 287
Aotearoa New Zealand: 53
There's a rich irony that the occupiers are able to carry on their activities. Team 5 Million led by a guvmint that prioritised human lives over business, worked collectively to keep us all safe. (Even with mistakes that I have reported on, at length.)
Had the Plan Bers got their way to LetItRip (eg, Sweden, Brazil, US, etc), our hospitals would be near collapse with covid-infected; the death toll would be in the thousands; and protesters wouldn't have anything to protest about.
We'd have repeats of New York with refrigerated trucks parked outside morgues,over-flowing with corpses.
Those protesters would have their freedom. Sheltering in their homes, unvaxxed (mostly), fearing to go out to buy something as simple as bread, milk, pet food. Their "freedom" would be an academic exercise.
Sadly, we've been victims of our fantastic success. With such a low death toll (tragic as 53 lost lives are, especially for their families), we've grown hopelessly complacent. The pandemic was something unreal for many people; something "over there, far away".
No wonder foreign-inspired (mostly American) conspiracy fantasies have filled the gaps in some people's minds. They didn't have covid to fear – so The Government filled that void.
You have to feel for PM Ardern. Thousands of lives saved, and people want to execute her for her leadership.
Mind you,it won't be the first time a mob killed someone whose "crime" was suggesting that we be kind to each other…
They would have something to protest about. They'd be protesting about the deaths, about the collapse of the health system and consequent deaths and about the terrible situation of health professionals.
Yeah, wouldn't be surprised, Peter…
Clearing the protest site is quite an easy task, if there is the will to do it.
Water cannon, tear gas and sound weapons can all be used do this sort of thing.
There is already cause to limit impact of the protest on the surrounding area, and to effect arrest of those who have made "threats". But at this point it seems the decision has been made to allow the protest to continue – for weeks and maybe months. So barring a government direction to declare an emergency, this is going to go on and on.
So those of the underground labyrinth of social media communities get the chance to get acquainted in the real world. A surprising development, and even more so during a pandemic.
One thing can be anticipated, the people protesting are soon likely to get infected and eventually use their acquired status to return to employment … .
You forgot the rubber bullets. Then we will see if they are real protestors.
There are lots of possible tactics, none of them pretty.
The protestors, to a certain degree, need to expand to the point of provocation sooner rather than later. Surround parliament and shut down the government, sort of thing. They won't last a winter in wellington, and even without the foodtrucks there will be gastro and frigid gales to worry about.
But that's their best outcome – getting thumped asap. The people haven't risen up in support of a coup. The longer it goes on, the more pissed off people get with them.
But I'm also tending towards the idea that the sooner they get dispersed, the less polarised NZ ends up and the fewer recruits the violent nutters get. And the quicker wellingtonians can move on.
For the state, this is just a complete abrogation of state power. It's one thing to tolerate an occupation of a park, but these guys are shutting down basic infrastructure to the community and stoppingthousands of people from living their ordinary daily lives. For almost two weeks. The cops are a joke right now. The longer it goes on, the weaker the police look. Either they move in, or the protestors get a gastro outbreak in the next week or so and aren't in a position to resist much of anything (and the cops can go "gosh we were afraid something like this might happen, so sad" when they take out the trash). But if the protesters are still there on ANZAC day, it's worse for the govt than it is for the far right, IMO.
That largely depends on how exactly they are dispersed.
Government engagement is what is required. Not the back hand of the police. Coster has put forward a good case for not going in hard, IMO.
Well, the "protesters" have some right wing and well-heeled participants, so the cops will probably go in more gently than they otherwise would.
But I suspect it's the band-aid removal philosophy: some pull quick, some drag it out, a very few find a solvent for the glue and ease it off painlessly but moderately quickly.
Going in gently is unlikely to move them on.
"…….. stopping thousands of people from living their ordinary daily lives…….."
Just two weeks huh? Not that there is any real reason, as your own words point out because what's the big deal anyway?
It seems to me that one angle I've seen no-one raise is the difference between live (biological – pulse, respiration, and the rest of 'mrs gren'), and live as in passion, relating, experiencing beyond that. Obviously no-one can have the second without the first, yet I would always accept maybe a higher level of risking the first, than many here, for just the chance of the second. It's not about peak experiences, its much harder to articulate than that. Somehow there is always a trade-off between safety for Mrs gren and being alive. Our public health system has been functionally reduced to virtually just lifesaving yet health, like life, is so much more.
We've done our bit for safety, more than enough. And we do need to take seriously, as we have never done before, those for whom that trade-off is dangerously affected by health conditions that make even Omicron a major threat – we need to be able to give what they need for a change, but that's another story.
We have to end the endless interlude. At the very least we need a clear plan and schedule for returning to the glorious, ridiculous, risky mess of real life. Those who wish to stay where we are now, triple masked, sanitised, isolated, hell even chucking stones at those moving around on the outside if necessary, I can respect your decision, I'll help if I can. But please stop insisting, in fact mandating, I join you in some kind of perpetuity hell.
Except if you're opposed to the "public" bit of "public health", you obviously won't help when you can.
But that's beside the point of my comment, which is that the protest has far exceeded most protests I can think of in the rejection and replacement of state power (on parliament grounds, no less) and in the level of impact the protest has on locals who are just trying to live and work in the area.
15.2 is the situation as I see it, with the most likely outcomes. If you want to describe a different and plausible outcome, that might be more relevant to my comment.
I saw protestors (40+) up close today on both sides of the road by the lights in Silverdale around 1730 today.
I know a Nat when I see one.
These were not the faces we have seen on TV & SM. These were middle class pakeha with entitled faces. They are angry that a Labour Gov are calling the shots and are not being cowered.
I expect to see more Nat MPs to side up to the fascists. Weasel words will be heard.
This alleged "demo" is very well funded. Who is providing the capital?
That's why I think the police are letting it run – to suck up the funding that is coming in.
Why assume the funding is limited either in volume or to this country?
I'm not opposed to public health, nor did I say I was.
And help is human, not political or bureaucratic.
The laughable veneer of ‘reasonable’ keeps falling away over this literal shit show.
At least it’s going to out the absurd apologists as increasingly detached from reality. There’ll be no concession of course as they’re impervious to evidence.