Mike Hosking: When do protests go too far?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Dec 2021, 9:11AM
(Photo / Brett Phibbs)
(Photo / Brett Phibbs)

Mike Hosking: When do protests go too far?

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Dec 2021, 9:11AM

Raewyn Kavermann owns Fuschia Boutique in Newmarket in Auckland. They have been there for 25 years. 

They will no longer be opening their doors on Saturdays because of what happened last Saturday with the anti-vaccine/anti-mandate protests. Kavermann makes a mistake. But in making the mistake, who can blame her? 

She is yet another victim in what is an increasingly angry, angsty, and ugly city. The Saturday protests whereby entire streets were taken over, the police did nothing, the shops are closed, and people who wanted to enjoy the first day of "sort of” freedom in the light system went home. 

Hundreds of thousands of desperately needed dollars were lost, and the fears are, for some, that they will clearly extend into next weekend and beyond. 

The Newmarket Business Association called the protestors utter dickheads, and I am not sure many would disagree. It's hard to tell in these gatherings how many are anti-vaxxers versus how many are the “I don’t like to be told what to do.” I think more of us have sympathy for the latter than the former. 

But the trouble with too many protest movements is they cross a line. And in crossing that line, they lose the support they might have hoped for. Greenpeace did it when they started gluing themselves to walls, scaling fences, and tying themselves to things. It went from an environmental group to a bunch of law-breaking thugs. 

The Insulate Britain movement lost all hope of public support when they sat down on one too many motorways. 

The moment you impede normal life, whether it's shopping or street access, your cause is over. You grow support by arguing your case, making a headline or two, and hope that others see it, get it, and get onboard. 

To put it bluntly, pissing people off, it doesn't work. Being loud, aggressive, and at times violent, doesn't work. Thumbing your nose at the law doesn’t work and damaging businesses doesn’t work. 

Goodwill is your key. And when all you have left behind in places like Newmarket is fear, you’ve lost.