Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Anti-vaccination protest in Wellington died an uneventful death

OPINION:

Standing on the Parliament forecourt at 10 past 1, there was a brief moment where I felt if the barricades were to go, I’d be going home bruised and battered.

With the media and police outnumbered by thousands of protesters, it was easy to feel nervous about how the next few minutes would pan out.

However today’s Covid-19 protest in Wellington was fickle and died an uneventful death.

Arriving at Civic Square at 10 o’clock, thousands of people had turned up, with signs and flags, but few face masks in sight.

It was evident that the majority were protesting against Covid-19 restrictions, rather than the vaccine or the fact that the virus exists. However, there were many with that viewpoint too.

Despite many warnings from passing members of the public, myself and other members of the media ventured through, and were surprised at the peaceful welcome we received.

How quickly that changed once the noisy lot turned up.

We were aware of noise in the distance but didn’t realise it would be a group of up to 100 gang members on motorbikes that would be leading the protest down Lambton Quay and to the doorstep of Parliament.

Once the burnouts and revving started, it sparked anger and fear among the group, that they carried right through the business district.

The abuse directed at the media and Prime Minister was prolific as the group descended on the Beehive, only for it to get much worse once they’d arrived.

Once there, speeches ranged from people unable to visit sick relatives, to those who felt betrayed by the Government and its Covid response, at times calming the group and at others, stirring them up again.

It all came to a close with a hiss and a roar. Tennis balls covered in various anti-Covid labels were hurled at the media, and the group made their way over the first lot of barricades and up to the second at the base of the Parliament steps.

But the police increased their numbers threefold and formed a human wall around the building. It wasn’t long before the crowd started to disperse and make their way back to work and home.

If there’s two things I’ll take home from today, it’ll be “Poison Jab” and “Agenda 2030”. They’re the two labelled tennis balls that now sit on my desk as a memento.


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