On Thursday, 120 protestors against the coronavirus restrictions outside of New Zealand’s national parliament were arrested by New Zealand police.
According to reports, the 120 people arrested were all of ages and had been trying to camp in Wellington for a third day. This was after two days of Freedom Convoy protests during which over a thousand people and multiple vehicles protested against New Zealand’s coronavirus and vaccine restrictions.
Police have issued a warning to all arrested persons that they will be facing obstruction and trespass charges in an attempt to discourage future protests.
According to police, they had told the 150-200 remaining protestors, many of whom had promised to stay there for as long as necessary, that they were trespassing. This was despite protest groups gathering on the Parliament’s lawn, which is a common practice. Police had previously stated that their presence didn’t constitute a trespass warning.
ABC reports that the police declared Thursday morning over megaphones that protestors would face arrest if they refused to vacate the grounds.
The police arrived on the scene and began to tear down tents and arrest protestors. One moment saw a naked woman being dragged across the floor by her hair. It is not clear why she was nude. However, other protestors were seen wearing ripped clothes.
Protestors chanted “hold it”, “shame upon you” and one voiced repeatedly, “keep the peaceful peace,” while police struggled to contain them.
Some of the attendees performed the Maori Haka, a traditional New Zealand war dance that was popularised in New Zealand by the ‘All Blacks’ rugby team.
Trevor Mallard, the Speaker of New Zealand’s Parliament seemed to have escalated tensions between protestors, police and police. However, on Wednesday, the police said that the protest was a matter for them to handle. He decided to close the Parliament’s grounds to try to stop the protestors being re-enforced.
Jacinda Ardern, Leftist NZ Prime Minster, initially supported the freedom protest convoy’s right. She stated: “People protest often on the front lawns of Parliament. It is part New Zealand”, but Ardern has since changed her mind and said that they must “move on” – allowing the police to disperse the protest.
Superintendent Corrie Parnell, Wellington’s police chief, tried to justify the police’s actions, claiming that the protest had begun to “unfairly affect the wider public”, despite the fact that the vehicle protest was largely contained on the parliament’s lawn.
Drivers were also warned that any vehicles that remain in the Parliament area and block roads are subject to enforcement.