Protesters are raiding New Zealand police while the cordon is being tightened

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – One protester was driving to the New Zealand police line, barely avoiding officers, while other protesters sprayed officers with scorching agent, police said Tuesday as they pulled a cordon around a two-column standing outside parliament.

Clashes in the capital of Wellington took place the day after police said some of the demonstrators were throwing human feces at them.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Richard Chambers told reporters that the actions of some protesters who oppose the mandates of the coronavirus vaccine are unacceptable and will be considered forcefully.

“Our focus is on opening the way to Wellington and we are doing our best to resume the peaceful protest,” Chambers said. “Absolutely shameful behavior of a certain group in the protest community.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the protesters had gone too far and should return home.

“What is happening in Wellington is wrong,” she said.

The latest clashes began after about 250 officers and staff arrived at dawn and used forklifts to move concrete barriers into denser cardboard around the camp, where hundreds of cars and trucks are still blocking city streets. This week, the police used straybauma to allow the protesters to leave, but not to drive anyone.

A video posted online shows a white car driving incorrectly down a one-way street toward a group of officers who quickly get off the road while people shout. The car stops at the police station and several officers go inside and pull out the driver.

Police said officers were lucky to avoid injuries after the car stopped nearly collided with them. They said they had arrested one person for driving dangerously and two more for obstructing police.

Chambers said the three officers, who were sprayed with an unknown burning substance, were treated at the hospital and are recovering.

The protest, which began when a convoy of cars and trucks drove up to parliament, was inspired by similar protests in Canada. The protesters were well organized: they pitched tents on lawns near parliament and transported trucks in portable toilets, donated food boxes and bales of straw to lie down when the grass turned to mud after Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard turned on the sprayer and blew up Barry Manny. an unsuccessful attempt to force them to leave.

Protesters even dug a vegetable garden, set up a tent in a kindergarten and assembled makeshift showers, signaling their intention to stay for a long time.

New Zealand has required some workers, including teachers, doctors, nurses, police and military, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. A vaccine pass is also required to enter most shops and restaurants.

The protests come at a time when New Zealand is witnessing the first major outbreak of COVID-19, which was caused by the omicron variant. Daily incidence jumped to a new high of more than 2,800 on Tuesday, although only one patient was hospitalized in the intensive care unit. About 77% of the population has been vaccinated.

Since the start of the pandemic, New Zealand has reported 56 deaths from the virus among a population of 5 million after it imposed strict border controls and blockades to eliminate previous outbreaks.

Earlier this week, Ardern said it plans to begin easing mandates and restrictions on viruses as soon as the current outbreak peaks.

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