cruel and unusual?
If asking nicely and turning on the sprinklers won't get anti-government protesters in New Zealand to disperse, one official is hoping that blasting James Blunt and "Baby Shark" will.
There are about 400 to 500 people in tents outside of Parliament in Wellington, Radio New Zealand reports. They are protesting against COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates, and have been camped out for about a week. This is "creating a real stress and concern" for local residents, schools, and businesses, Superintendent Corrie Parnell, the Wellington District Commander, said on Monday. "We continue to appeal to protesters to leave the demonstration and to take their children — it has been wet and cold overnight, and we now have concerns about the health risks posed and sanitation issues."
More than 120 protesters were arrested Thursday, but that, coupled with the sprinklers being turned on Friday, didn't do anything to get the crowd to disperse. That's when Trevor Mallard, speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, came up with a new, more annoying plan.
Mallard put together a playlist of songs that he hoped would make the protesters flee for the sake of their ears — the "Macarena," "Baby Shark," and an out-of-tune recorder version of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go In" are part of the loop now blaring from speakers, intermixed with advertisements for COVID-19 vaccines. Blunt, fully aware of the effect his song "You're Beautiful" has on people, tweeted on Saturday to "give him a shout" if the other tunes didn't disperse the crowd, and Mallard responded that "we will take up your very kind offer."
So far, the music has elicited boos but no mass evacuation. In fact, Blunt may have even picked up a few new fans since entering the rotation — Radio New Zealand reports that "You're Beautiful" has been played so many times now that protesters have learned the words and are singing along.