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The reported assaults on police at the protest these last two mornings are completely unacceptable.
None of us are going to be ok with protestors throwing faeces at police, and spraying officers with what they suspect is acid.
Unless that kind of nonsense stops, the protest will lose any public support that it has, and I suspect, frankly, it has already lost a great deal of public sympathy.
All of that support that the protestors gained last week by turning the thing into a festival rather than a freak show, all of the credibility it might’ve gained from the likes of Russell Coutts visiting and the likes of Timber boss Marty Verry admitting he’s funding some of it.
All of that has probably evaporated.
Because it is intolerable to Kiwis to see cops who’re busting their butts already get treated like that.
Now what we’re hearing is that there has been a change in who’s effectively running the protest.
First week, you had the nutters in charge.
Second week – which is last week – the more sane, normal Kiwis took over and forced the nutters out, which is when you saw the better behaviour.
And this week, the nutters have forced their way back in again.
What these people need to understand is that modern-day protests are PR battles.
They are fighting for the support of the public, you and I.
By doing what they’ve done they’ve started losing that PR battle.
On the other hand, their opponents are formidable and experienced.
This week, the cops have clearly stepped up their PR campaign.
They’re clearly going to go public with every misstep the protestors make, from throwing the faeces through to rumoured sexual assaults within the camp.
And – this is notable – they’re also filming their operations now and giving that footage to the TV stations, which makes them look good because they look slick and disciplined.
The government's been running a PR campaign against the protest this entire time, trying to paint them like ‘ferals’ and a ‘river of filth’ – actual words from government MPs.
And frankly, the protestors are playing into that perfectly.
Making predictions is a bold move, but I’m prepared to make this prediction.
The protestors are going to lose this PR battle, and they’re going to make it very hard to maintain much long-term support.
Unless they can rein in the nutters and stop them attacking the cops.
I suspect that as long as the nutters are there, they won't be reined in.
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