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Anti-vaccine mandate protesters gather for ‘National Compassion Day’


Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has addressed protesters in Auckland Domain during “National Compassion Day”, an event railing against vaccine mandates.

The gathering in Auckland is one of several across the country demonstrating against vaccine mandates.

The activists are gathering under the banner of the Brian Tamaki-founded Freedoms & Rights Coalition.

Previous demonstrations in the Domain have led to charges against the alleged organisers, including Tamaki.

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Tamaki’s bail conditions include not attending or organising any protest and not accessing the internet for the purpose of organising or inciting non-compliance with Covid-19 level requirements.

Brian Tamaki speaks to protesters gathered in Auckland.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

Brian Tamaki speaks to protesters gathered in Auckland.

In the wake of Tamaki’s surprise appearance at Saturday’s demonstration in Auckland, a police spokeswoman did not rule out further charges against the Destiny leader.

“Police will be following up and looking into whether there are any breaches with regard to today’s activities.”

Tamaki’s lawyer, Ron Mansfield, QC, said he did not believe Tamaki would be arrested simply for appearing at the protest.

“The right to protest remains important to most New Zealanders whether we agree with that person’s views or not,” he said.

Today’s event is the latest in a series of protests against the Government’s Covid-19 response.

It was originally advertised as “The Great Exodus, leaving Jacinda’s NZ”. However, three days ago organisers changed tack to target vaccine mandates.

“We feel strongly that this week in particular we must come out in support of those who have lost their jobs due to the No Jab, No Job mandate,” a coalition social media post said.

Auckland

Protesters gather at Auckland Domain during alert level 3 with a speaker urging attendees to stick to their bubble of 25 and to wear masks.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Protesters gather at Auckland Domain during alert level 3 with a speaker urging attendees to stick to their bubble of 25 and to wear masks.

Brian Tamaki was seen attending the protest at the Auckland Domain at around 12.30pm.

The crowd was on their feet and applauding rapturously as Tamaki got into the swing of his speech.

Tamaki is currently facing charges for allegedly organising an earlier protest, and for allegedly breaching bail for attending a subsequent protest.

His wife, Hannah Tamaki, said they had consulted their lawyer, Ron Mansfield QC, regarding Brian’s attendance at the protest.

In his speech, Tamaki accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of “criminal acts” in implementing vaccine mandates.

Mansfield said Tamaki can protest as long as he acts in accordance with the law.

“He, like everyone else, has to comply with current Covid-19 requirements and not to encourage noncompliance.”

Brian Tamaki attends Saturday’s Auckland Domain protest. He is facing charges for allegedly organising an earlier protest.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Brian Tamaki attends Saturday’s Auckland Domain protest. He is facing charges for allegedly organising an earlier protest.

Attendance appeared to be significantly down from previous events, but hundreds gathered on the sports field, listening to speeches.

A speaker urged protesters to stick to their bubble of 25 people and to wear masks. He also asked people to meet with other bubbles while observing social distancing.

Ron Mansfield QC said can protest as long as he acts in accordance with the law.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

Ron Mansfield QC said can protest as long as he acts in accordance with the law.

The speaker asked teachers and healthcare workers who lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates to lay their notebooks or uniforms in a “heart of hope” on a bank beside the Auckland Museum, which closed for the day. An hour later, two sets of medical scrubs had been left in the heart-shaped area.

The speaker asked those at the protest to observe a minute’s silence for four people killed in a car crash returning from an anti-lockdown protest in Wellington.

He described the four as fallen heroes and freedom fighters.

Deputy principal of Papakura High Kelly Te Ariki speaks at the protest in the Auckland Domain.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Deputy principal of Papakura High Kelly Te Ariki speaks at the protest in the Auckland Domain.

Among the speakers was Papakura High School deputy principal Kelly Te Ariki, who said she is losing her job due to the mandate.

She said she last attended school on November 15 before she and several other staff were no longer allowed on site, presumably due to their vaccine stance.

She did not explicitly mention Covid-19 vaccines but congratulated others who have chosen not to receive the shot.

“We’re showing that we’re practising what we preach,” she said.

Hannah Tamaki at the Auckland Domain protest.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Hannah Tamaki at the Auckland Domain protest.

Police once again maintained a low-key presence. Officers with a long lens camera were seen at the edge of the protest.

Police said they will be maintaining a low-key presence at the protest and can be seen with long lens cameras.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Police said they will be maintaining a low-key presence at the protest and can be seen with long lens cameras.

“Breaches of the health order or other illegal behaviour may be followed up with enforcement action,” said a police spokesman.

One protest sign on display in Auckland appeared to quote a Bible verse mentioning masks and vaccines.

Chris McKeen/Stuff

One protest sign on display in Auckland appeared to quote a Bible verse mentioning masks and vaccines.

New Plymouth

Protesters march along New Plymouth’s Devon St East.

Hundreds of people gathered in New Plymouth to march from Puke Ariki Landing to East End Reserve.

Led by a dozens of motorbikes, the protestors blocked Devon St East, New Plymouth’s Main Street, themselves and marched.

Patrons of a nearby cafe sitting outside asked two motorbike riders, who had blocked the street: “What was the occasion?”

“Freedom, our freedom,” they replied.

Hundreds of people gathered in New Plymouth to march from Puke Ariki Landing to East End Reserve.

Simon O’Connor/Stuff

Hundreds of people gathered in New Plymouth to march from Puke Ariki Landing to East End Reserve.

Wellington

Around 250 protesters gather in Wellington's Te Ngākau Civic Square.

Kevin Stent/Stuff

Around 250 protesters gather in Wellington’s Te Ngākau Civic Square.

In Wellington, about 250 people gathered in Te Ngākau Civic Square as part of the nationwide protest.

Metlink buses in Wellington are expecting “widespread disruption” to their bus routes on Saturday and Sunday.

Dunedin

A crowd of protesters gather in Dunedin, a mix of “Make America Great Again” supporters in the mix.

Glen McConnell/Stuff

A crowd of protesters gather in Dunedin, a mix of “Make America Great Again” supporters in the mix.

A mix of protesters in Dunedin – some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and others holding the Tino Rangatiratanga flag – gathered at the Octagon, numbering in the low hundreds.

Some sang God Defend New Zealand, while others argued with passers-by.

“We are in a prison,” shouted one protester at a young family driving by.

“I feel sorry for you,” replied the woman inside the car.

Christchurch

Thousands of protesters in Christchurch marched through central city streets with signs saying “Freedom of Choice”.

Steven Walton/Stuff

Thousands of protesters in Christchurch marched through central city streets with signs saying “Freedom of Choice”.

Thousands of peaceful protesters gathered in Christchurch’s Cranmer Square on Saturday.

A makeshift stage on the back of a van served as a platform for several speakers, including two teachers and a midwife who had lost their jobs because of the Government’s vaccine mandate.

Following the speeches, protesters took to the streets of Christchurch’s central city. Most protesters were unmasked and several were carrying New Zealand flags.

One Christchurch resident, Bobby Robinson, yelled to protesters that if they catch Covid-19, they should pay their own hospital bills.

“They’re allowed their opinion, but so are we, and my opinion is that if they don’t get their injections, then they pay,” he said.

At the very end a fire truck with flashing lights and sirens came upon the crowd and everyone quickly made their way to either side of the road to let it through.

A procession of motorbikes led the march, followed by a ute with loudspeakers.

Steven Walton/Stuff

A procession of motorbikes led the march, followed by a ute with loudspeakers.

Nelson

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Anzac Park in Nelson before marching up Rutherford St behind a banner which read “Freedom for all Kiwis”.

Protesters marching across Nelson with a banner saying “Freedom for all Kiwis”.

Andy MacDonald/Stuff

Protesters marching across Nelson with a banner saying “Freedom for all Kiwis”.



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