Barry Soper: Protest crowds show Beehive's lost control on gatherings

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jun 2020, 9:02AM
Thousands turned out to the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Auckland on Monday. Photo / Dean Purcell
Thousands turned out to the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Auckland on Monday. Photo / Dean Purcell

Barry Soper: Protest crowds show Beehive's lost control on gatherings

Author
Barry Soper,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jun 2020, 9:02AM

COMMENT:

The police in this country did the right thing by standing back and allowing thousands of protesters to spray their spittle over the horrible death of the handcuffed George Floyd as a cop for more than eight minutes knelt on his neck until he could breathe no more.

Rightly the cop, who knelt casually with a hand in his pocket, has been charged with murder. He was repeatedly pleaded with by Floyd to release the pressure to let him breathe, the same plea made by brave bystanders who were filming the life being taken from the African American in Minneapolis.

Watch an almost nine-minute video of the horrible event compiled by the New York Times as to how it unfolded, and your blood would boil and you'd want to protest as well, not that it'd make any difference to that police culture when it comes to African Americans.

Even with this protest having no impact whatsoever on what's happening in the United States, the attitude taken by the police here means they have opened the pub and church doors, with the Beehive finally losing any authority it had to keep crowds of more than a hundred from gathering.

For Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to suggest the police on the day had taken an educate-first approach, followed by warning people before arresting them, was beyond belief and certainly not in evidence on the day.

The Beehive's loss of control appeared borne out by the intense Ashley Bloomfield, who has told us there is no need for the protesters to self-isolate because there's no evidence of community transmission.

It seems they have finally accepted that one person in the country with Covid-19 is no longer a reason to restrict Team Five Million, as Ardern likes to refer to us.

But she's determined to manage the good news, not totally removing the shackles yet but strongly indicating we will have freedom of association by this time next week. In reality on that front nothing has changed, Cabinet would surely have been considering that next week anyway, even though she insists it's happening earlier than planned.

The plan was always to consider moving to level 1, we were told, "no later" than June 22, which meant that any time before then was most certainly always an option.

The Beehive can read the signals. Most New Zealanders have had enough of the restrictions as the protesters have shown, and it's now time to allow us to start the incredibly tough task of picking up our lives and trying to earn a crust.