James Blunt rose to prominence in 2004 with the release of his debut album Back to Bedlam, achieving worldwide success with the singles “You’re Beautiful” and “Goodbye My Lover.” Police in New Zealand have recently turned to James Blunt’s music in their latest effort to repel protesters camped outside Parliament.
The protesters, who are upset about the COVID-19 vaccine mandates, have been blocking the streets of Wellington, the country’s capital, since Tuesday, February 8. Local authorities have used tactics such as turning on the water sprinklers on the lawn where the protesters were camped to try to get rid of them.
According to BBC News, protesters retaliated by digging trenches and erecting makeshift drainpipes to reroute the water. When the sprinkler strategy failed, police resorted to blasting out Barry Manilow’s greatest hits, including ‘Mandy’ and ‘Could It Be Magic,’ on a 15-minute loop from one of parliament’s loudspeakers, along with the ’90s Spanish hit ‘Macarena,’ and a number of vaccine messages.
Blunt offered his services to New Zealand authorities via Twitter after learning about what was going on. “Give me a shout if this doesn’t work @NZPolice,” he tweeted, sharing a story on the protests. A few hours later, it appeared that the singer-offer songwriter’s had been accepted, as his 2005 chart-topping hit ‘You’re Beautiful’ was heard over the loudspeaker. Protesters, however, appeared unfazed, singing other songs over Blunt’s track and playing songs like Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It,’ all while dancing in the rain.
The protesters were inspired by similar demonstrations in Canada, but their list of grievances has grown to include general dissatisfaction with Jacinda Ardern’s government. On Thursday (February 10), police announced the arrest of 122 people, many of whom were charged with trespassing or obstruction. For nearly two years, New Zealand has used strict coronavirus restrictions to keep the virus at bay. Lockdowns and an international border closure have contributed to very low infection rates and death tolls.
However, the length of many restrictions, such as 10-day minimum isolation and a vaccine mandate, has fueled growing resentment in the community. To get the latest updates, keep an eye on Thirsty.
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