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Hundreds of anti vaccine and mandate protesters walk Christchurch’s streets


A group of about 200 people attended an anti-Government rally and march from Latimer Square in Christchurch late on Saturday morning.

Christchurch City Council warned residents about the protest, against Covid-19 vaccinations and mandates, which included a march around the city.

The protesters, including members of the National Front and anti-Covid-19 vaccine group Voices For Freedom, listened to Lee Williams, a far-right YouTuber, before leaving Latimer Square at about 11.20am.

Williams told the crowd all serving politicians needed to be “brought down”.

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Far-right YouTuber Lee Williams addresses a crowd of about 200 people at a Freedom and Rights Coalition anti-Government protest march from Latimer Square.

STACY SQUIRES/Stuff

Far-right YouTuber Lee Williams addresses a crowd of about 200 people at a Freedom and Rights Coalition anti-Government protest march from Latimer Square.

Streets that could be affected by the march include Madras Street, Armagh Street, New Regent Street, Gloucester Street, Colombo Street, Oxford Terrace, Cambridge Terrace, Lichfield Street and Worcester Boulevard.

A group of six tents were erected at the square on Friday evening, but were empty on Saturday morning.

The council Facebook post says the march “may affect access to the Lichfield Street parking building”.

“If you’re planning on visiting the city around this time, we suggest using Barbadoes Street and making use of alternative car park buildings.”

Protesters at a Freedom and Rights Coalition march in Christchurch on Saturday.

STACY SQUIRES/Stuff

Protesters at a Freedom and Rights Coalition march in Christchurch on Saturday.

A council spokeswoman said the parks team visited and checked the tents on Friday evening and had no concerns about them. They would continue to monitor the situation, she said.

A poster advertising the “Enshrine our Bill of Rights march” on social media called for the “freedom to choose”, to get rid of the Covid-19 Response Bill and “no more media lies”, and “get rid of all current politicians”.

In late March Freedom & Rights Canterbury Coalition, led by Destiny Church pastor Derek Tait, said they intended to continue protesting.

Tait attended Saturday’s protest, which was led by a group of men on motorbikes.

He told Stuff the protest was aimed at getting rid of the current Government, and making the Bill of Rights a written constitution and part of supreme law – similar to the United States Constitution.

Tents in Latimer Square ahead of a protest march calling for an enshrined bill of rights and to “get rid of all current politicians”.

STACY SQUIRES/Stuff

Tents in Latimer Square ahead of a protest march calling for an enshrined bill of rights and to “get rid of all current politicians”.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act of 1990 sets out the rights and fundamental freedoms of anyone subject to New Zealand law, but is not contained in one single constitutional document.

This week a Government decision to remove vaccine pass requirements, most vaccine mandates, QR code scanning and outdoor gathering limits came into effect.

On Monday the “Freedom Village” group – which has links to Kyle Chapman, the former leader of far-right group NZ National Front – erected tents and towed caravans onto the site between Brooker Ave, Dunair Dr and New Brighton Rd.

Derek Tait, Destiny Church pastor on his motor bike at Latimer Square prior to an anti-Government march.

STACY SQUIRES/Stuff

Derek Tait, Destiny Church pastor on his motor bike at Latimer Square prior to an anti-Government march.

Tait said he was not connected with those in the “Freedom Village” group.

Anti-mandate protesters from Christchurch’s Cranmer Square are believed to be amongst those camping at a new “Freedom Village” in the former residential red zone.

On Friday Christchurch City Council head of parks Andrew Rutledge said the settlement is unlawful.

“The area the group is occupying is a mix of Christchurch City Council reserve land and residential red zone land and the legal advice we have now received makes it clear the provisions of our 2016 Parks and Reserves Bylaw 2016 do apply,” he said.

“Our Parks and Reserves Bylaw clearly states that people cannot erect tents and structures, or park vehicles, on park or reserve land. They are also not allowed to remove vegetation.”

Occupiers set up camp at freedom village in the red zone, Burwood, Christchurch.

Stuff

Occupiers set up camp at freedom village in the red zone, Burwood, Christchurch.

Christchurch’s Cranmer Square was left pockmarked with patches of dead grass from tents, gazebos, portable toilets, barbecues, and even a trampoline that formed the anti-mandate campsite that was illegally set up in the park on February 14.

It is fenced off while new grass beds in.

Christchurch City Council sent the coalition three invoices totalling $50,533 for protests on the city streets in November, December, January and February.

More invoices are being prepared for protests held in March.



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