When Josephine Bartley, a councilor in Auckland, New Zealand, heard that the local Covid-19 vaccine clinic had been destroyed in early November, she called to assess the damage. After talking to the owners and helping them contact local law enforcement, he saw three men roaming around his parking lot.
"Some guys were standing next to my car just staring at me," he told NBC News by phone and email last week.
"One of them called me trash," he said, adding that they damaged his car. The men then climbed into a four-wheel-drive vehicle. When a trade union councilor said he did not know if the three were related to the vandalism of a health facility, which serves the local Pacific community, the experience left him trembling.
“I was confused, trying to figure out who the‘ garbageman ’was - were black people? Was it a job, was it a Council? Is it a vaccine? Were they women? But I was concerned about my safety, ”said Bartley. The police “advised me not to use my car and to sleep for a few days,” he said.
As New Zealand transitions into a “living with the virus” policy, citizens accustomed to living outside Covid as a result of the epidemic are facing increasing numbers of cases and an increase in vaccination rates. Vaccination protests and frustration over the ongoing epidemics are causing a small but understandable protest movement partially driven by American politics.
In a paper published in November, a team of researchers in New Zealand stated that there had been a "significant increase in popularity and resilience" around disinformation around Covid-19 since August, when violence erupted over diversified delta diversity. the virus that causes most New Zealand cases started.
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The researchers said that this disinformation information "was used as a Trojan horse" to persuade New Zealanders to go from vaccination to immunization, and to accept far-right views as white supremacy and extreme disrespect. Some of the most extreme content, they say, comes from overseas, especially in Australia and the United States.
Bartley said before the incident at the vaccination clinic there had been an increase in online harassment of New Zealanders targeted at his office and clinic.
"I sent a video with an American anti-vaxxer saying, 'If you support the policies you will go to hell,' 'he said.
The news also saw phone messages from Shane Chafin, an American New Zealander revealing the phone number of a pharmacist who criticized his vaccination, when he appeared to be urging fans to harass him in retaliation. NBC News went to Cafin for comment.
Chafin works for “Counterspin Media,” a New Zealand-based news site run by GTV, a company founded by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. In November, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's press conference was called off after Cafin scolded her about the vaccine.
In protests against the closure and anti-vaccination campaign in cities such as Wellington and Christchurch, hats and flags "Make America Great Again" from the QAnon conspiracy theory movement appeared among the crowds. Sam Brett, a Canterbury University student who attended the recent protests against his medical research, said he felt "a small, New Zealand version of the Trump conference."
Photo: Anti-Lockdown protesters gather in Wellington
Protesters gather during the Freedom and Rights Coalition protest in New Zealand Parliament, Wellington earlier this month. Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images File
Protests often produce “powerful and powerful speakers,” says Brett, who say that the government “is desperately trying to usurp human rights.”
They also chose the language and culture of the Indigenous New Zealanders, just as online related language promotes Maori racism, said Sanjana Hattotuwa, a researcher at the University of Auckland and one of the authors of the working papers.
"Maori identity, symbols, history, culture, narratives and specific individuals are accounted for by white actors, especially in the Telegram," an app that can serve as another social media platform, allowing greater anonymity and less stricter social rules. there are sites like Twitter.
Those symbols include the Maori flag and “Ka Mate” haka, a festival dance known worldwide for its pre-game All Blacks rugby team New Zealand.
In a statement in November, Dai Toa, a Maori ethnic group recognized by the government as a legal right to dance, called on the protesters to "stop immediately".