‘Freedom Riders’ join mandate protest


Horse›mounted ‘‘Freedom Riders’’ joined high›spirited anti›mandate demonstrators in Balclutha’s main street on Saturday. The march followed another vehicular ‘‘Freedom Convoy’’ about a kilometre up State Highway 1 and rallied at the Elizabeth St plaza.

Local organiser Brodie Dodds referred to the vaccine’s manufacturer: ‘‘Pfizer was penalised $2.3 billion after the prescription opioid scandal. For 25 years they aggressively pushed addictive drugs into homes and communities. No product by a company like Pfizer should ever be mandatory,’’ she said.

(The Ministry of Health says the AstraZeneca vaccine is available for those aged 18 years old and older who cannot receive the Pfizer vaccine, and for people who would like a different option.)

Veteran activist Rina Kollen had a broader view: ‘‘The mandate for kindness is gone — look at the news. We’re in a situation where government and media think it’s OK for the country to loathe, ridicule and discriminate against a minority group. That’s the reality for the unvaccinated now.’’ REPORT & PHOTO: NICK BROOK