New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday she was “alarmed” by the death of black American George Floyd and welcomed the peaceful solidarity protests in New Zealand, but noted that protesters underestimated the rules of social estrangement.
Thousands of New Zealanders participated in a peaceful rally yesterday (Monday) as part of protests in the United States and various parts of the world denouncing the way Floyd died after a policeman perched with his knee on his neck last week.
“I think I stand with everyone who is terrified because of what we saw,” Ardern said in an interview on TV.
Turning to the limitations of social separation in large gatherings, she said, “I do not want to stop peaceful protests … but the rules are imposed to protect the people.”
Some liberal supporters describe Ardern as “anti-Trump” and defend issues such as social justice, pluralism and equality.
Ardern won worldwide praise for her handling of the worst shooting incident in New Zealand when a white Christian gunman killed 51 Muslims in two Christchurch mosques on March 15, 2019.
Ardern said her country’s response to this attack made it clear that the people of New Zealand renounced racism and hatred.
“It also means that we reject them as a country wherever we see them in the world,” she said during the interview, adding that she understands how protesters feel.
New Zealand has not reported any cases of coronavirus during the past 10 days and is on the verge of eliminating it locally. The country has been under a comprehensive closure for nearly seven weeks.
Ardern said all restrictions may be lifted next week as she plans to review them on June 8 ahead of the June 22 deadline.