The cops need to charge Brian Tamaki for that protest at the weekend for one primary reason: social cohesion.
The Prime Minister is absolutely right. That was a slap in the face for Aucklanders who have been following very strict rules for 7 weeks now.
I can’t even begin to imagine how infuriating it was for business owners who are losing their livelihoods and homes to watch Tamaki thumb his nose at these rules.
Many people hate the rules, but we follow them anyway for the greater good.
It is extremely damaging to social cohesion and the willingness of people to keep following the rules if we witness people like Brian Tamaki getting away with flagrantly disobeying them.
I think the cops made a massive misjudgement in trying to take a softer ‘education first’ approach with lockdown rule breakers.
They ignored the Black Lives Matter protests, they’ve laid no charges as far as we know for the gang tangi in West Auckland on Friday, and now this.
Instead, they gave the protest their tacit endorsement by meeting with Tamaki beforehand and negotiating a compromise for all attendees to wear masks.
I think they have completely underestimated the rage of Kiwis over this.
Social media is furious and more than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for police to charge Tamaki.
My guess is that the cops decided it was better to take a light touch at the protest because arresting Tamaki might only turn him into a martyr and harden the attitudes of his followers who are already sounding very anti-vax and anti-mask and anti-authority.
But what the cops are risking is frustrating potentially many, many times more people who’ve watched this unfold and feel even more disheartened about compliance with the rules.
Auckland – and in fact the country really – has a long road of it with restrictions for some time yet.
If the cops want to increase the number of people who stay on board with these rules, they need to make an example of him and charge him.
And then they need to charge every other person who is caught breaking the rules from here on in.