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Kiwi cops blast musical tactic to clear protesters

Kiwi cops blast musical tactic to clear protesters

Bike riders gather for a Freedom and Rights Coalition demonstration to demand an end to COVID-19 restrictions and mandatory vaccination outside the Parliament House building in Wellington, New Zealand on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Efforts to clear New Zealand anti-vaccine protesters by blasting Barry Manilow songs on a loop have drawn criticism from police officers caught in the crossfire.

Hundreds of demonstrators – inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers in Canada – have been camped on the lawns of parliament for a week, ignoring appeals from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday to “go home, and take your children.”

Attempts to move the protesters over the weekend included dousing them with sprinklers and pummeling them with sickly sweet pop tracks such as “Baby Shark,” “Macarena” and Manilow’s “Mandy.”

Wellington police chief Superintendent Corrie Parnell was unamused at the tongue-in-cheek tactics deployed by parliament officials, which appear to have steeled demonstrators’ determination not to move.

“It certainly wouldn’t be tactics or methodologies that we would endorse, and it’s something we would have preferred did not occur,” Parnell told Radio New Zealand.

Parnell urged protesters who arrived as part of a convoy last week to move vehicles that were still blocking streets.

He also defended the hands-off approach adopted by police since Thursday, when officers tried to forcibly clear the lawns, resulting in violent clashes and more than 120 arrests.

While the original convoy was promoted as a demonstration against vaccine mandates, Ardern said it was clearly now being dominated by anti-vaccination activists.