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Police pepper spray NZ anti-vax protesters

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Police have lost patience with an anti-vaccine occupation outside New Zealand’s parliament, using serious force and making mass arrests in an effort to end the protest.

As of 9am NZDT (7am AEDT), police said they had arrested 20 protesters as part of a premeditated operation to clear out the protest on day 23 of its illegal campout in the national capital, Wellington.

Police surprised the protesters by moving before dawn.

“WAKE UP” was the 6.06am message sent by protest organisers through their social media channel, followed by “All who can be on the ground need you all now please” at 6.31am.

Radio NZ reports police have deployed pepper spray against protesters, who police say were using handcrafted weapons such as pitchforks.

Protesters have dug in to resist arrests, forming human chains and confronting police at various flashpoints around parliament.

At least one attack on media has been reported. A Stuff cameraman said he was assaulted by a protester saying “this wouldn’t have happened if you guys had told the truth”.

Protesters retain control of loudspeakers outside parliament, playing songs including Amazing Grace and Don’t Stop Believing.

While some protesters chose early on Wednesday to leave of their own accord, police were towing the vehicles of those who refused.

The “Convoy 2022 NZ” protesters came from all corners of New Zealand, descending on Wellington on February 8 to protest on the first day of the parliamentary year.

They have remained there since, setting up camp on the parliament grounds, leaving cars blocking CBD streets, and installing all sorts of facilities in readiness for a long stay.

That includes laundry, daycare, food and coffee trucks. There have also been crystal healing tents, cryptocurrency stalls, a playground for children, even toilets plumbed in the middle of a road into Wellington’s sewerage system.

The protest has also included – to the irritation of Wellingtonians, the local university and businesses – daily rallies to shout invective at the government, journalists and health officials.

They regularly call for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and government MPs to be tried and hanged, they have thrown human waste at police officers and abused children for wearing masks as they walk to school.

The protest has coincided with New Zealand’s biggest outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country reported more than 19,000 infections on Tuesday, by far its highest daily number from the pandemic yet.

At least 20 protesters, many of whom are unvaccinated, and all of whom are maskless, have tested positive to the virus during the occupation.

Health officials said the protesters’ unwillingness to get tested masked the true number, and COVID-19 was rampant among the group.

Some protesters delusionally believe they have caught “radiation poisoning” from government-installed towers designed to end the protest.

-AAP

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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