New Zealand arms Barry Manilow, James Blunt and the “Macarena” to deter the “Freedom Convoy”
New Zealand used an unusual tactic to disperse ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesters on Sunday – playing hit songs by Barry Manilow and James Blunt, as well as the Spanish dance track ‘Macarena’ by band Los del Río.
The so-called “Freedom Convoy” rallies in several parts of the world follow a movement in Canada that has seen truckers protest against vaccination mandates, Covid-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.
In New Zealand’s capital of Wellington, protesters set up camp on the grounds of the country’s parliament and gathered in the streets to protest against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s vaccination mandate, according to CNN affiliate Radio New. Zealand (RNZ).
RNZ reported that protesters responded to the music with mockery and playing the 1984 song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by American band Twisted Sister, which has already been somewhat adopted as an anthem by Canadian truckers.
New Zealand Speaker of Parliament Trevor Mallard started the playlist and interspersed the songs with Covid-19 vaccination adverts – with many social media users on Twitter offering suggestions, including the singer British James Blunt.
Citing a BBC News article outlining Parliament’s new tactic to disperse protesters, Blunt tagged New Zealand Police and said, “Let me know if it doesn’t work.”
In response, mallard said“we will accept your very kind offer”, although he joked that it was “fair” to the police before adding: “I think they will be able to cope”.
RNZ said the playlist changed on Sunday morning to include a detuned rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” performed by Matt Mulholland and now a popular internet meme.
The mallard had asked Twitter users for their opinion on the song shortly before it was played over parliament’s loudspeakers, and he also started playing Blunt’s song “You’re Beautiful”, with RNZ reporting that the latter had been played so many times most of the protesters knew the lyrics and were singing.
Other reports on Twitter and by local media said the power ballad “Let It Go,” from the 2013 Disney movie “Frozen,” was also played, along with the children’s song “Baby Shark.”
Sprinklers have also previously been used to disperse protesters but hundreds remain camped out on the ground, while RNZ said Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell confirmed there were around 3,000 people present over the weekend.
“Police have identified a range of different causes and motivations among the protesters, which makes it difficult to open clear and meaningful lines of communication,” Parnell said in a statement Friday.
Other “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations also took place over the weekend in Paris, which announced a ban on demonstrations earlier this week. Protesters in the French capital managed to temporarily block traffic and were dispersed with tear gas.
Canada’s “freedom convoy” began in late January in Ottawa as an objection to a vaccination mandate requiring truckers entering the country to be fully vaccinated or subject to testing and quarantine requirements. Other protesters then joined in denouncing mask mandates, lockdowns, restrictions on gatherings and other Covid-19 preventative measures.