WELLINGTON: Police with riot shields clashed with anti-vaccine demonstrators outside New Zealand’s parliament early Tuesday, with one protester unsuccessfully attempting to drive a car into a group of officers.
The escalation in tensions came a day after police reported demonstrators had hurled human waste at them as they installed roadblocks around a protest camp which has clogged the parliamentary precinct and surrounding streets for the past two weeks.
Police said a large number of protesters attempted to obstruct officers early Tuesday as they moved the barriers closer to the camp.
“At least three officers require medical attention after being sprayed with an unknown substance by protesters,” police said in a statement.
“One person has been arrested after attempting to drive a car into a group of police officers.”
Authorities had been taking a largely hands-off approach to the demonstration, attempting to persuade protesters to voluntarily move on.
But Assistant Commission Richard Chambers said late Monday that recent events showed “genuine protesters are no longer in control of the behaviour in and around parliament”.
The Wellington protest began as a movement against vaccine mandates but has grown to encompass a range of grievances, with some far-right messaging among the anti-government and anti-media slogans on display.
Wellington residents have complained about being abused by protesters for wearing masks, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemning “bullying and harassment” of locals.