Globally, there are increasingly violent protests related to COVID-19, most recently in Victoria where people were allegedly encouraged to take firearms to Parliament and shoot the Premier.
Last weekend thousands marched on the mainland.
Tasmania has been relatively immune to protests to date, but they are coming, and it's useful to understand a little more about the how and why.
Protesting against actions we don't agree with is a fundamental right in democracies, but a line seems to have been crossed with a hangman's noose and threats of violence.
There is a spectrum of ways of protesting with the ballot box being the most formalised and civilised.
The mildest form is to grumble at the kitchen table, the local coffee shop or pub.
Getting more serious includes engaging directly with politicians and usually starting a media campaign.
Up the scale we move to more public protests within the law and then to disruptive protests outside of the law.
At the other extreme to grumbling across the kitchen table are threats or acts of violence towards oneself or others.
Most of us believe there are limits to protests, especially where there is a risk of violence. But there is a murky area, particularly around the rights of protesters to disrupt the lives and businesses of others and whether protesters should pay for that. For example, legal action against an unvaccinated person who allegedly transmits COVID-19 to others is a looming legal eventuality.
Historically protests have either been aimed at removing the government of the day and replacing it with another, or broader ideological social movements aimed to re-shape the behaviours of governments, parliaments and the public - such as the environmental movement.
COVID protesters don't quite fit either model.
The COVID protests bring together a motely crew of people organised less around broad political ideologies and more around concepts of rights and limiting the power of government.
In that sense they are not aimed at regime change - booting out a particular government - but rather changing how governments act, usually focused on reducing the role of governments in our lives.
Since the COVID protesters don't fit a simple political pattern it's easier for the public to write them off as nutters. Which would be a big mistake.
Apart from the odd professional agitator the evidence shows that two main types of people tend to be involved.
Firstly there are those who believe that COVID policies infringe basic human rights, especially in relation to 'forced' vaccinations that are physically invasive.
Secondly, there are people who believe that governments can not and should not restrict the operations of the market to meet public health goals, especially when the goal posts keep changing. For example from eliminating COVID to living with COVID.
Most believe government secrecy and lack of transparency in decision-making has exacerbated their concerns, creating a space for conspiracy theories to thrive and to portray the masses as 'sheeple' - those blindly following authority.
Dog whistling, where politicians in particular say one thing but are giving a contradictory message to others, hasn't helped. The most recent example is Scott Morrison critiquing violence towards politicians but simultaneously sympathising with the idea of government over-reaching into regulating people lives.
Social media can rapidly fuel protests, reach across all communities and keep the momentum running.
Such protests are often relatively spontaneous and loosely organised, which from a policing perspective can make it harder to predict numbers, location and behaviours and, therefore control the protests.
What is of most interest in the COVID protests is less the numbers involved but more the intensity of their beliefs.
Most of the COVID protesters have little history of activism but hold their beliefs with a high level of intensity sufficient to trigger mobilisation, public action and the risk of consequences, including arrest and possible imprisonment. Hence the speed with which protests can escalate towards violence.
Specific events usually act as a catalyst to trigger protests, and in Tasmania this may well be around the inevitable lockdowns accompanying any community transmission.
At the moment the inability of protesters to organise politically and draw support from mainstream political processes means their main options are the streets or courts.
The Tasmanian court challenge to health vaccination requirements is an early formal protest skirmish in what will be a protracted array of protests.
This protest activity has highlighted the paucity of debate about basic rights and the nature of democracy, the exclusion of the Parliament and the broader community from much of the policy decision-making exacerbating the preconditions for protest.
Before COVID again lands on our shores we should be thinking through a Tasmanian view of how to understand and better manage protests and mitigate violence.
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