Anti-Vaccine Mandate Protester Nearly Runs Down Police Line

New Zealand protests continue
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 22, 2022 1:02 AM CST
Anti-Mandate Protester Nearly Runs Down Police
Police and protesters clash in Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, as police tightened a cordon around a protest convoy that has been camped outside Parliament for two weeks.   (George Heard/New Zealand Herald via AP)

One protester drove a car toward a New Zealand police line, narrowly avoiding officers, while other protesters sprayed officers with a stinging substance, police said Tuesday, as they tightened a cordon around a convoy that has been camped outside Parliament for two weeks. The clashes in the capital of Wellington came a day after police reported that some of the protesters had thrown human feces at them, the AP reports. Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers told reporters the actions of some of the protesters, who oppose the coronavirus vaccine mandates instituted in the country, were unacceptable and would be dealt with assertively. Chambers said the three officers who were sprayed with the unknown stinging substance had been treated at a hospital and were recovering well.

“Our focus remains on opening the roads up to Wellingtonians and doing our absolute best to restore peaceful protest,” Chambers said. “The behavior of a certain group within the protest community is absolutely disgraceful.” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said protesters had taken things too far and needed to return home. “What’s happening in Wellington is wrong," she said. The protest, which began when a convoy of cars and trucks drove to Parliament, was inspired by similar protests in Canada. Protesters have been well organized, setting up tents on the lawns outside Parliament and trucking in portable toilets, crates of donated food, and bales of straw to lay down when the grass turned to mud after Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard turned on the sprinklers and blasted Barry Manilow tunes in a failed effort to make them leave. Protesters have even dug a vegetable garden, set up a daycare tent, and assembled makeshift showers as they signal their intent to stay for a long time.

The latest clashes began after about 250 officers and staff arrived at dawn and used forklifts to move concrete barriers into a tighter cordon around the encampment, where hundreds of cars and trucks remain blocking city streets. Police have used the barriers this week to allow protest cars to leave but none to enter. Video posted online shows a white car driving the wrong way down a one-way street toward a group of officers who quickly get out of the way while people shout. The vehicle comes to a stop at the police line and several officers climb inside and pull out the driver. Police said the officers had been lucky to escape injury after the car stopped just short of colliding with them. They said they had arrested one person for driving in a dangerous manner and two others for obstructing police.

(Read more New Zealand stories.)

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