Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Protest groups at Parliament seen arguing over police discussions

An early morning argument between protesters at Parliament exposed the fractious bonds connecting the groups with the word “traitor” slung at convoy organiser Leighton Baker after it was discovered he had been talking to police.

Baker’s daughter Chantelle livestreamed the argument which took place before dawn after protesters were abruptly woken to find large numbers of police on the street and concrete blocks being moved in to stop cars blocking Wellington streets.

Two protesters, with Counterspin’s Kelvyn Alp looking on, tore into Leighton Baker after it emerged he knew of the police operation the night before.

One of the protesters appeared to be the woman dragged naked from the protest group during the day of confrontation at Parliament.

During one part of a heated exchange, she said to Baker he was a “liability or a traitor”.

Police have said from the outset that it was difficult to engage with the protest in a meaningful way because leaders of the various groups involved were difficult to identify.

The livestream saw Baker identifying himself as someone who had been in discussions with police and who then passed information on to a “leadership group” information about this morning’s police moves to free up Wellington streets.

The information appeared not to have been passed on to those camped out at Parliament and in cars in surrounding streets.

Baker’s daughter Chantelle was broadcasting a livestream of police moving in large concrete blocks when she broke off to support her father.

She continued to broadcast, sending the sometimes-heated argument between Baker and the two protesters who challenged him out on Facebook. Chantelle Baker’s broadcasts with their anti-public health approach have developed a strong following.

Leighton Baker told the pair confronting him that he had been busy in meetings throughout Sunday.

“Look, I dropped the ball. I totally say that, but I’m not a sell-out,” he said, when challenged about meeting with police.”

The woman confronting him said: “You deliberately lied to me today. I’ve got text evidence. It said there were no police negotiations happening.”
In response, Baker said: “They’re not negotiations. They have told us this is what we’re doing.”

Baker was challenged repeatedly over the discussion he had with police and the nature of those conversations.

At one point, the woman challenging him said: “To be honest, I’m kind of upset you used my freedom without my knowledge to barter with the police. When we do an occupation you do not negotiate with the police.”

She told Baker that she and the man with her had “years of experience” protesting. She then widened her frustration to include portable toilets being put into Wellington’s Sky Stadium, forcing people to walk a distance to use them and facing obstacles returning.

Chantelle Baker broke in, saying: “The police did those toilets. It wasn’t the people.” Then she tells her viewers: “I’m sorry, this girl is talking bullshit.”

At that point, the voice of the woman challenging Baker is obscured until the end of her sentence when she tells him “you’re still a liability or a traitor”.

The claim has Chantelle Baker burst out with laughter, then saying: “That is such a lie it’s not even funny. You’re just lying about my dad and I’m not cool with that. And you came up to me and you were lying about me as well.”

The woman continued to push her point, questioning why Baker believed he was the right person to talk to police.

The bearded man with her told Baker: “If you guys knew they were going to do this it should have come through security, it should have come through us.”

Baker, in response, said: “I did tell the heads of all the groups. I didn’t tell the people.” His communication with police was supported by his daughter, who said: “Someone has to talk to the police on behalf of the convoy.”

The woman challenging Baker responded: “We’re the people who have to deal with it – the front line. Where were you on the frontline?”

As the argument went on and it drew wider attention, Baker deescalated it by saying he had made a mistake.

“I did tell the heads of all the groups. I didn’t communicate with the people. That’s where I stuffed up.”

It was a concession that Chantelle Baker took issue with, pointing out her father had “told every single leader that was in the leadership meetings”. “It’s up to the leaders to tell their group.”

“It’s a reflection of the leadership, not of dad. He’s literally trying to help the leadership and none of them listen. And none of them want to stand up and say anything.”

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