Lynley Tulloch: The irony of the Parliament protest: Peace and love – and ‘executions’

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Anti-vaxxer protesters try to break through a police barrier on New Zealand's Parliament grounds
Anti-vaxxer protesters try to break through a police barrier on New Zealand's Parliament grounds on February 9. Image: RNZ screenshot APR

COMMENTARY: By Lynley Tulloch

There is a dangerous anger on rapid boil at the protest in Wellington. It is a stew of dispossession and unrest alongside various delusional beliefs and violent threats.

Two weeks into the protest and the police have had to endure human waste and acid thrown at them; a car driven into them; threats of violence; chants of “shame on you”; accusations of police brutality; physical attacks and injuries.

Meanwhile, the illegal occupiers (who refused to move their cars to a free car park) claim peace and love as the Ministry of Health reported today a record 2846 new community cases of covid-19 with 143 people in hospital with the virus.

This “protest” was from the beginning organised in part and spread by QAnon (a conspiracy group that want to hang the government literally) alongside religious groups. Also in the mix are white supremacists (Nationalist Front).

It was joined by “everyday people” annoyed with mandates they don’t want to live with.

Well, if these “everyday people” can lower their standards to stand shoulder to shoulder with violent extremists all I can say is, “shame on you”.

Deputy Leader of the House, Labour’s Michael Wood recently spoke of these threats at Parliament: “There is a river of violence and menace. There is a river of anti-Semitism. There is a river of Islamophobia. There is a river of threats to people who work in this place and our staff.”

A recent Stuff article reported that a “Labour MP says protesters have been waiting at the doors of her office at night, and are telling politicians they will be ‘lynched, hung or kidnapped'”.


Deputy Speaker Michael Wood speaking in Parliament on February 17. Video: NZ Parliament

These underlying threads of violence give the protest its bite, if not its bark. The protest in Wellington was inspired by the truckers’ convoy in Canada and the occupation of Ottawa.

We know that this was not an organic uprising of truckles, but was rather inspired by QAnon conspiracy theorists.

Conspiracy far right media platform Counterspin in New Zealand was central in the formation and viral spread of the Aotearoa convoy,

It is also, astoundingly, a protest that is preaching aroha (love) and peace. This is at odds with the Trump-loving, QAnon inspired cesspit of violence. QAnon believes that the government is full of elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and media.

They believe that politicians and journalists will be executed in a day of reckoning.

That is why “hang ‘em high” was chalked on the steps to Parliament in the first days of the protest. Many people at this protest want to see politicians and media people executed.

This protest also has the support of white supremacists with swastikas chalked on a statue in the early days.

This disgusting far-right, anti-establishment hatred has no place in Aotearoa. Yet here it is at a protest supported by thousands on the Parliament lawn.

I have protested at many events over the years in Aotearoa in the name of animal rights. Never would I stand alongside people who preach violence. And in all cases police behaviour toward myself and my fellow protestors has been exemplary and respectful.

The protest was ill-thought out in direction, leaderless, and doomed to failure. Their demands cannot possibly be met in a time of global pandemic that has brought the world quite literally to its knees.

And yet as the days tick by, yoga classes spring up alongside gardens. Food stalls and dancing, a concert, love and freedom grow like fairy tales.

It’s all a fairy tale. Make no mistake. This protest may preach peace, but its bones are evil.

— Lynley Tulloch

It’s all a fairy tale. Make no mistake. This protest may preach peace, but its bones are evil.

So where to go from here? There is no end in sight for this drama. The protesters are revelling.

The government can’t move them. Police can’t move them. The army can’t move them.

Ironically, as suggested by ex-Labour party president Mike Williams, it will be the covid virus itself that will bring them down. And that is one little virus that doesn’t care about threats of violence.

The only thing it will take notice of is a vaccine and a mask, and those are in short supply on Parliament grounds right now.

The virus doesn’t care if you are a child, or elderly, or immune-compromised or dangerously deluded. It doesn’t give a care in the world about your rights. It just goes and sticks its spikes right into you joyfully.

And so, Mike Williams is probably right. And therein lies the biggest irony of this whole protest.

Dr Lynley Tulloch is an educational academic and also writes on animal rights, veganism, early childhood, feminist issues, environmentalism, and sustainable development.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Great article, well written.

    If you stand with bad actors, gang members, religious extremists and neo nazis you are enabling their agenda, not yours. The bad actors are using the gullible and naive and their children as meat shields and pawns. Do not expect New Zealand to ever forgive the violence, threats, pollution, assaults and deliberate spreading of a death dealing virus when you say it’s peace and love, freedom and rights. There are too many witnesses, too many first hand accounts, too many incidents, too much online, too much photographed and filmed that irrefutably shows this “protest” for what it will be known as forever – providing means, shelter, succour and support to evil people. This is NOT who New Zealand is.

    There is substantial funding of this platform for racism, violence and assault from individuals that think the protest will help revive our tourism industry. Really? How? Pick a country where these behaviours are rife and check out how their tourism industry is getting along.

    If there are no consequences what kind of precedent does this set?

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