Rebuilding Team New Zealand: Waking up

I have written so much about the occupation of Parliament grounds, and not published it. Things moved so fast. But it was better to be involved than just write.

I don't expect opposition to listen to any of this, so great is the ideological divide. Most refuse to read anything I write on the subject (and many unfollowed me before the protest began). This divide is the result of people doing exactly that: refusing to listen. The other side of the story is like water off a duck's back, not to be indulged for an instant.



Camp Freedom, as many called it, was a safe, beautiful, and inspiring place. If you saw no evidence of that it is most likely because you weren't offered any and didn't care to investigate for yourself. Or because you don't believe such a thing is possible. If there is anyone apart from obvious mainstream media who actually visited in person and still thought it was a place filled with by abusive or filthy people, or white supremacists, as said by our most-quoted politicians and police, I would like to know.

It seems most New Zealanders still don't know why the protesters were even there. They were all deluded paranoid types who had no genuine complaint, right?
  • The vaccine is neither safe, nor effectiveFar more Kiwis have been killed or seriously injured by the Pfizer covid vaccine than by covid. That doesn't mean the vaccine is worse than covid itself; but it does mean it's unsafe. This should come as no surprise - despite all kinds of denials, it is experimental (the first vaccine of its kind), and it did not have the proper safety checks (so much so that the High Court said its approval was probably illegal).
  • People with serious reactions to the vaccine were denied exemptions, and either rolled the dice by submitting to another dose and many were injured, or they refused and lost their jobs or careers. I met some of them at the protest; others made speeches.
  • Mandates rendered many of the protesters either homeless or fast becoming so.
  • If the new underclass can be trespassed from Parliament grounds, they can be trespassed from anywhere.
These are facts most do not want to recognise, and that is why we are in this mess.

And if none of them were facts, it would make little difference. The problem isn't primarily with data or science or lack of information (or the vomit-worthy term "misinformation"), it is with lack of dialogue and respect for fellow citizens. The only way to restore trust is good communication; the best way to destroy trust is to refuse to engage with objections, and instead indulge in constant ad-hominem attacks. I said this when about dealing with anti-vaxxers many years ago; but with covid the attacks have stepped up to an alarming degree, and have now become physical.

People have been pushed into a corner and have nothing left to lose.

In order to treat people like this, justifications must be given. The wide range of reasons offered, most with no evidence at all, should make it obvious how desperate their opposition is to discredit them. Many Kiwis are so accustomed to believing what they hear from authority figures that they're slow to believe those authority figures could be very arrogant and careless; but thanks to the protest, they put the colours of their kindness on full display.


There are so many lies to counter, almost all of it with testimony of reputable sources and my own eye witness. But it is hard to collate video evidence because such recording was almost entirely disorganized. We will get there. Meanwhile I will use my words. I prefer words over images. Words are more difficult to digest. One is less likely to accept words without questioning or thinking critically.



* * *

A peaceful protest

Every day the public was told by politicians and police that the protest was characteristically abusive.

I was at the protest almost every day and never saw any abuse of anyone, masked or unmasked, outside of police action. I believe abuse outside the protest area occurred, though I question why none of it was recorded or how much of it was illegal. There was a major cultural clash between many protesters from small towns where very few wear masks outside, and the most masked city in the country. For many Wellingtonians, being called names or told in strong language to remove their masks is panic-inducing abuse. Where many of the protesters came from, abuse is something far stronger. The abuse endured by some Wellingtonians doesn't compare to treating people as second class citizens, firing them, or throwing them out of their homes. Or beating them up for protesting peacefully.

The proof of the mildness of the abuse commonly endured in the protest area is the large numbers of masked schoolgirls who walked through it twice a day for weeks, sometimes venturing into the grounds themselves, only stopping when their schools closed due to police escalation (when hard borders were enforced).

This doesn't justify any abuse, but it does put it into more appropriate context, and it does justify calling out the callous position of characterizing thousands of people by the 0.1% worst behaved. It's akin to calling Maori abusive criminals because they have a higher rate of arrest and criminal conviction - and no we don't care why.

Throughout the occupation, people who were abusive towards anyone, or who threw things at police when police moved against the crowd, were reprimanded and prevented from continuing. Those who persisted or were drunk and disorderly (there was a strict no alcohol policy), were ejected, and often were turned over to police. In some cases police refused to arrest those handed to them who had committed crimes such as assault or vandalism.

Neither was the attack on reporter Graham Bloxham condoned by the vast majority of protesters, and one can see this even in his recording of the attack. No-one should take too seriously his report of being "beat to a pulp" when he was back on the last day livestreaming and egging on the people who were attacking riot police with bricks.

This self-policing continued until the very end, when a small number of enraged young people took over, some of whom were masked and had not been seen at the protest previously, starting fires and seriously battling the cops with thrown objects. They could not be reasoned with (I tried). At this point the vast majority of the protest had retreated, as they were unable to even pause the advance of riot police through the grounds, and many were occupied in trying to salvage as much stuff as possible before police trashed it.

what we salvaged — mostly from the kitchens, because they started to be dismantled hours before police moved on the remainder of the grounds

There is no truth without context. But the entire mess we have gotten ourselves in over the past two years is due to deliberate lack of context or deliberately misleading context.

The following day Police Commissioner Coster said "The behaviour yesterday shows the challenge that we were dealing with throughout." In saying this he was deliberately misleading the public. At no other time were things set alight, at no other time were more than a few objects sporadically thrown before other protesters stopped it. Until the end, when it was clear the protest could not hold and fires were set, the protest was defensive. Those who attacked police at the end were few, but police had never faced resistance like that before. The end was not characteristic of rest of that day, let alone the previous twenty-two days. That's why  the Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said differently (15m into video): "What we saw yesterday was that the genuine protesters had long gone and those that remained had a different agenda and that was one of violence."



* * *

A legitimate protest

Every day the public was were told by politicians and police that the protest was illegal.

The occupation of the grounds was illegal only because Trevor Mallard said so. Previous protests have been allowed to camp on Parliament grounds. Only since the Parliamentary Services Act 2000 has the Speaker even had the ability to trespass people from them.

There were numerous previous protests around the country against vaccine mandates, including no less than four marches ending at Parliament in the usual fashion. All were similarly ignored by all of Parliament. The usual form of protest had been tried and failed, repeatedly. And of course the protests only happened after over a year of appeals through normal channels.

Our Prime Minister will negotiate with the Mongrel Mob and talk to the Taliban, but she will not talk to a cross-section of ordinary Kiwis having their lives destroyed by her policies - protesters representing about 30% of citizens opposed to the mandates. Most disturbingly, not a single other Member of Parliament would talk either. Leaders from both sides of the aisle perpetuated wholesale lies that quickly become unhinged, calling the protest "neo-nazi", "ferals", "white supremacist", "a river of filth, a river of violence and menace, a river of anti-Semitism, a river of Islamophobia", etc.

There is nothing normal about this behaviour, and it is entirely appropriate that the latest protest wasn't normal either.

Which is why it also blocked streets.

I've written previously about an attitude displayed by many Wellingtonians (and Council policies): we love the homeless, we just can't stand actually seeing them, so long as we don't have to walk past them we don't care where they go. People weren't just there to protest, they were there out of survival instinct. This government established an example of treating them as second-class citizens undeserving of basic rights. Undeserving of jobs or accommodation or the use of public facilities.

But what really made the protest take off was February 10th when Parliament responded to a peaceful protest with violence. They treated the protesters not as citizens who pay their salaries, not just as their newly-created underclass undeserving of rights, but as the enemy, deserving not representation but every kind of attack they could get away with.

So support and more protesters poured in from around the country.

There were far too many protesters to fit on Parliament grounds. There were thousands of people living there and on the surrounding streets in vehicles or tents.

I have little sympathy for the vehicular inconvenience of some Wellingtonians against the issue at hand. Firstly, the vast majority were already working from home. Secondly, the vast majority either directly serve the government or serve those who serve the government responsible for this mess. A mess that has killed and is continuing to kill Kiwis. This doesn't make all Wellingtonians complicit, but it does give them a strong conflict of interest — similar to how threatening someone's livelihood is strong coercion. 

TV news said "not everyone is welcome", but their recording crews were the only unwelcome ones. For good reason: they worked hand in hand with police in a heavy spin campaign. Everyone else was welcome. No businesses on any streets were forced closed, quite the opposite they would've had a roaring trade if they had remained open, even with all the covid rules, as evidenced by the McDonald's across from the train station which did very well from protesters. No schools were forced closed either. The fact that Victoria University buildings closed immediately (despite giving permission for protesters to camp in part of their carpark), while secondary school girls happily continued their commute through, speaks volumes of the courage of either schoolgirls, university students, or university administrators.



* * *

A necessary protest

The Parliament protest represented a true grassroots movement, and it is the unavoidable result of government policy. A government that is no longer democratic and does not care about the law. A police force that enforces not the law but the will of the government. Courts that say government and police actions are illegal, but that it doesn't matter. A healthcare system that brooks no discussion, thereby treating science as the enemy. A country that doesn't care about the law — everyone shifts the blame, government says businesses don't have to mandate, businesses say government policy forces them to, and few think the Bill of Rights or Human Rights Acts still apply. A Parliament united unanimously against a large proportion of the country. A protest ignored and criminalized in unprecedented fashion. A nation being turned into a cult.

There is no such thing as a reputable source who speaks against the official narrative.

"We will be your single source of truth" said the Prime Minister, and most of the country seemed to accept it.

Now she says she needs to keep all her emergency powers to deal with the next flu season. Yet another conspiracy theory proven true.

When speech is not approved, the only possible unapproved expression is unapproved action.



* * *

More than a protest

The main value of the convoy occupation was not as a protest but as a rally and a demonstration: not for the government, nor for the hateful mob they've manipulated for support.

The people at the protest who were most angry were those who still had the attitude of begging the government to rescue them from the situation created by the government. "Give us back our jobs, with back pay", "let us back into society", et cetera. They were reasonable requests — if the government were open to reason, which it most evidently was not, and still is not.

Whereas the people who kept it peaceful, and who did more of the support work, had the attitude of "be the change you wish to see in the world". We don't need to beg to be let back into society. We are society. All we have to do is support each other, instead of waiting for the uncaring virtue-signalling bureaucracy to support us.



The occupation of Parliament grounds and surrounding areas was a demonstration of what a free country can look like, where people rely on each other without central control.

It was a rally that has given a large part of the country its courage back, to speak the truth, to stop isolating, to stop following nonsensical and counterproductive rules, and to work together to create a better place.

I'm not naive. Our nation is in serious trouble. A significant proportion of Kiwis are now truly totalitarian. They believe that forcing a small number of people to take a drug they know will likely seriously injure and perhaps kill them, is a necessary evil. Rather, it is good, because the individual must always submit to the collective. Virtually anything is justified in the name of public health and reducing burden on public healthcare. Law, democracy and honesty are far lower priorities. Of course none of this is fully conscious, but it is the effect of the marginalisation and unwillingness to listen that they perpetuate.

Most people are not true believers in totalitarian norms, rather they just want to avoid the conflict. For reasons that should be obvious, that is a very costly mistake. Deep disharmony ignored only worsens, bullies not resisted are emboldened, and tyranny eventually turns on everyone.

The protest has made it obvious to many that our country is run by liars and cowards. We wonder how long the majority will continue to support them. What magnitude of lying will they put up with? Will we continue down this track indefinitely like China? Perhaps, but I choose to believe enough people will care enough to ask questions and speak the truth. To treat the other side like humans. That's all that's needed.

The video below is about how this happened similarly in many countries in the previous century. Now it is the turn of the rest of the West. The causes of our crisis run deep, and will take many years and further suffering to correct. Love and truth will prevail as people regain hope and faith in things that are more vital than government. It is inevitable.








* * *

A mountain of lies


Appropriate use of force

The first fighting (on day three, 10th February), when Mallard issued his trespass notice, was as peaceful as reasonably possible.

Media reports of the day always mentioned that two police were assaulted with minor injuries (scratches). There was no mention of police assaulting hundreds of people who did not retaliate. No mention of the use of pepper spray. No mention of multiple elderly dragged away. No mention of protesters taken away in ambulances. No mention of police punching, kicking and stomping protesters sitting on the ground. No mention of women bashed, one hospitalized with a broken sternum after she had been arrested and was lying on the ground not resisting at all. Despite tens of thousands of people watching it all happen on various livestreams.

122 protesters were arrested and it was a miracle that no officers were injured further.


A foreign import

Thousands of protesters, most of whom lived onsite, were fed by supporters from around the country. In the weekends there were tens of thousands of visitors from around the country. By the second week over four thousand were being fed each day. This was possible mostly by direct donations of food, not dollars, let alone dollars from Canada. Not all of Wellington is ungenerous.


A disorganized rabble

A team of over two hundred volunteers worked to support the protest. They included qualified doctors, nurses, and paramedics, professional chefs and baristas, kitchen-hands, servers, security, information desk assistants & administrators, musicians, teachers, massage therapists, builders, plumbers, laundry service, rubbish collection, and more. Nobody was paid, apart from barbers by koha. It was a bootstrap operation, but every day it was more organized. Various authorities complained about the lack of representative leadership. But their representative leadership was supposed to be in Parliament! Not a single MP would represent them, despite the protesters representing hundreds of thousands of Kiwis. The only people qualified to negotiate with the protest refused to do so. It was left to police, who had only the power to use force.


Without a clear message

The protesters delivered a letter to all MPs on the first day (8th February), another on the second week (14th February) to all MPs and Parliamentary media, and another the following week. These communications were ignored and politicians continued to complain about a lack of a clear message.


Unsanitary

I never saw any evidence of sanitation issues, apart from five overflowing portaloos in the last week when the police refused to allow the sewage truck to empty them. After Mallard had done his best to create a swamp to flush out the protest, there was a smell for a few days in one small area of the lawn - and if you've ever visited a fresh swamp you'll understand why. The tents there were taken down temporarily, the ground was properly drained, and the smell disappeared in less than a day. Police offered absolutely no evidence of sanitation issues. District Commander Corrie Parnell even said there was "poo on the ground" in a TV interview, but was quoted as saying there was "possible faecal contamination on the ground" in written articles on the same day. No, until it was demolished by police it was as clean as any camping site I've seen and I challenge anyone to show otherwise.


Unsafe

Commissioner Coster showed similar disregard for the truth. In concert with the Prime Minister, he claimed repeatedly that the area was not suitable for children. But one of the few officers who actually patrolled the grounds as an ordinary policeman (not in force) said the opposite. The evidence of children thriving was clear to any who visited. Coster claimed officers were hospitalized after being attacked with "an unknown liquid". There is no evidence of this. Everything was recorded, and the only video of police being affected by a liquid is when an officer caught pepper-spray in a crosswind from his colleague. Not long after, the same careless officer repeatedly punched a protester who was not attacking, and then viciously eye-gouged him. The protester was arrested after legally defending himself. This horrendous police action was reported in the mainstream, but minimized.

I slept in the camp on the last night of the occupation. I felt safe, despite the expectation of a move from police. There were frequent security patrols, and people looked out for each other generously.

Of course the area did become unsuitable for children when the Commissioner sent in the riot squad. When clearing the grounds, cops acted more like soldiers than police. They either stood impassively, refusing all interaction with protesters and ignoring all pleas, or they advanced with violence.

After holding position for hours police gave no warning of their move to trash everything remaining in the grounds — apart from the trespass notices they'd been issuing all day long with long-distance focused speakers (and randomly throughout the previous twenty days) and which everyone had long since tuned out. Police were literally destroying everything and had little regard for safety, even for each other at some points. From the very start of the day and throughout they used shields as weapons to bash people who were not fighting back. They used pepper spray indiscriminately against hundreds of people, some of whom were not obstructing at all but just standing nearby filming. They used pepper spray and fire extinguishers on people caught atop walls or in trees. They did not give people time to remove their possessions even when it was clear the protesters were not stopping them - and then those who ordered them complained about the "rubbish" left behind. And that's just what I saw with my own eyes.

They seized the vehicles that were people's homes, and are keeping them indefinitely. People who are unemployed because of the mandates they were protesting.


Necessary police violence

Commissioner Coster denied most of this. He said "We only moved to the use of helmets and shields at the point it was clear that was necessary". I was there when police in helmets and shields charged down Hill St out of the darkness around 6:10am. Our clue that something was about to happen, and our chance to get dressed and start packing, was the sound of the police helicopter. Coster said he was not aware of any use of tear gas or batons, but everyone saw the tear gas, and I saw (and there are many recordings showing thus) tear gas and batons used on multiple occasions against people who were not attacking. In his press conference while this operation was ongoing, Coster said he was happy with all police conduct throughout the entire protest, and was not aware of any protester injuries. He was either lying or is grossly incompetent.

All this is without considering the how unnecessary the operation was to begin with. Days earlier the High Court found that the vaccine mandate for the police and defense forces was illegal. Yet that same police force had no choice but to clear out the protest that was creating significant political pressure in favour of that ruling?

This is business as usual for this administration. The High Court ruled Coster's enforcement of the first lockdown illegal. Coster's job is to enforce the law, but for years he has instead been enforcing government will. People have warned for decades about the lack of separation of powers in this country; never has it been more evident.

The reason the protesters hate mainstream media is that it is supposed to act as the fourth estate; it is supposed to act as the last check on this abuse of power; but especially with regard to covid, it has very rarely done so. It is either incompetent or complicit.



Legal trespass

The first trespass of Parliament grounds (day three, 10th February) was incompetent and thus at least partially illegal. Police issued a trespass notice around 8am; they closed the two main gates but not the other four entrances. They posted no warnings, stationed no guards, and did not caution those entering. No-one entering who did not hear the initial trespass notice had a reasonable expectation of trespass, and thus could not be legally arrested for it. They had good reason to believe that police were acting illegally to stop a lawful protest, and thus couldn't be legally arrested for obstruction either.

On the last day (2nd March), Police cleared and loaded into a dump truck all tents and belongings around the Wellington Cathedral and arrested people there with trespass, including some who were not even staying there, merely filming their actions. As far as I know this was totally illegal as the campers were there by permission of the Bishop.


The protesters should just go home

Each of the crosses hung between the flagpoles outside Parliament bore the name of a Kiwi killed by the vaccine. Go argue with the bereaved about how their loved one's vaccination was pure coincidence. Or with those who have been permanently disabled. Or at least look up the official Medsafe reports (there are many reports they have not counted, but it's a good start).

Also; what home?




* * *



As was posted on our so very kind Prime Minister's Facebook page two days before the protest was cleared (my italics):

There is no victor in unjustified and unprovoked aggression. We must be clear. The Russian government has repeatedly ignored opportunities for diplomacy, negotiation, de-escalation, and has instead chosen aggression….

We must not let diplomacy fail. We must persevere in pursuit of an outcome that prevents further suffering...

Comments

  1. I'm missing a lot of sources, I decided to get this out sooner rather than wait to hunt them all down. If anyone has one (e.g. a link to a mainstream media report I mention, video recordings of events, or shorter clips than what I've linked to) please let me know and I'll add them. Contact me here or https://www.facebook.com/gracefool/ or https://gab.com/gracefool

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