Auckland councillor threatened by anti-vax crowd refuses to back down

Source: 1News

An Auckland councillor targeted with threats and intimidation while helping out with the Covid-19 vaccination rollout says she won’t back down.

Josephine Bartley woke to a security guard positioned outside her home following an incident last week.

She joined Q+A live from the Mega Vax Pacific mass vaccination event at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium., where the event is hoping to administer 10,000 doses between Friday and today.

“I’ve been facing a bit of backlash regarding supporting the vaccination programme,” she said.

“However, it’s not just me - there’s so many others that are receiving the same kind of online threats and abuse.”

She said the threats she has received in recent weeks include being called “scum” a “disgrace to our race” and having her vehicle vandalised.

“What I go through - everybody says ‘it’s to be expected, you’re a councillor, that’s what you get’ but the stuff coming through from the extreme anti-vax is scary, really scary stuff.

“That’s what we’re all facing by supporting the vaccination rollout - that we’re going to burn in hell - things like that.”

Bartley said Pasifika providers and others have pushed the threats and intimidation to one side in support of the vaccine rollout.

“Everybody here, even though it’s raining - who’d much rather probably be at home watching Netflix with our bubbles, with our families - but everybody is here out of love and out of service,” she said.

“That’s what motivates us and that’s why we come out here, we do these vaccination events in the community and it’s not just me - it’s all of these people out here.

“Everybody’s just going hard to get that vaccination rate up - not just because they want to get the numbers; it’s not about the numbers, it’s about saving people’s lives.

“This is how we keep going - being around each other and supporting each other.”

She said she got the sense from speaking to some of the hundreds of people in her community isolating at home with Covid-19 that “people don’t realise how widespread Covid is and how Covid is actually in our communities”.

“I’m not sure why, but people seem to think that Covid is within a certain boundary with a certain phone code in Auckland, but it is out there.”

Bartley said it was important for families with Covid-19 to first be approached by community health providers, adding that fear is “a very dominating factor” in the pandemic.

“If people have it, they don’t want to know they have it, they don’t want to go to MIQ - it’s just very scary so the first approach is most important.”