August 8, 2022

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The movement that started with frustration from truckers over coronavirus vaccination mandates at the border...

The movement that started with frustration from truckers over coronavirus vaccination mandates at the border has snowballed to include a hodgepodge of grievances. Here are some parts of the world seeing protests of varying scale energized by the self-described “Freedom Convoy”:

In New Zealand’s capital, police arrested more than 120 people on Thursday at a protest outside Parliament they called “unprecedented,” as campers hunkered down for a third night. Days earlier, a convoy of vehicles clogged streets in the capital, Wellington, with horns blaring and crowds taking to the streets to oppose vaccine mandates. “It’s not about HEALTH, it’s about CONTROL,” one sign read.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has described the protesters a minority. The country, which is set to start easing its border closure this month, has maintained some of the world’s toughest restrictions during the pandemic, a policy authorities credit for keeping infections and deaths low.

Local media reported on Friday that in an effort to dislodge some protesters, the Speaker of Parliament, Trevor Mallard instructed water sprinklers be kept on outside parliament — a tactic to get those camped outside to leave.

“No-one who is here is here legally, and if they’re getting wet from below as well as above, they’re likely to be a little bit less comfortable and more likely to go home,” Mallard told press. In retaliation, some protesters covered the sprinklers with cones, while others dug trenches on the lawn to redirect the water.

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As people waved signs that read “FREEDOM” in front of Parliament on Tuesday, some lawmakers warned against violence in a country that saw protests against vaccine mandates last year. Protesters, who organized meals and camping gear, rejected claims that they planned to cause trouble. Australian police expelled people from one Canberra site last week and said they would clear another if demonstrators don’t leave.

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In New York, a group of city workers marched in protest of a measure set to take effect requiring them to get vaccinated or face dismissal. The protesters walked across the Brooklyn Bridge this week holding large U.S. and Canadian flags. Some of their signs read, “Workers Are Essential, Mandates Are Not” and “We will not comply with tyranny.”

In Alaska, dozens of truckers gathered in Anchorage last weekend, driving to Eagle River to show support for the Ottawa protesters and reject vaccine requirements for crossing the border, according to local media outlets. “Mandates should be our choice, whether you want the shots or not,” one truck driver told the Anchorage Daily News, which reported that other cities in Alaska saw similar events.

A convoy of vehicles is forming in France, with drivers starting their journey in parts of the country on Wednesday to head for Paris in opposition to the government’s vaccination pass and other coronavirus rules.

French police announced in a statement they were banning the demonstrations over the weekend, which they said were intended to “block the capital” and risked disrupting “public order.”

Protesters are also planning to converge in Brussels in the coming days.

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Though the region has a history of trucker and anti-lockdown protests, the Ottawa demonstrations fueled a rush of online organizing, including from anti-vaccine and anti-mandate groups rallying under the “European Freedom Convoy” banner. Facebook groups for events in a number of cities have drawn tens of thousands of members. On Telegram channels circulating the plans, messages ranged from expressions of support for truckers to misinformation about vaccines.

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