Police Minister Poto Williams points finger at social media after Parliament protest, says many involved feel 'marginalised'

The Police Minister is pointing the finger at social media over the violent protest which took over Parliament’s grounds for nearly a month. 

Anti-mandate protesters were pushed out on Wednesday after 23 days of occupation. But they didn't go quietly, clashing violently with police. 

As police moved in to remove them, protesters tore up the sidewalks, threw bricks at officers and lit several fires. Police arrested 100 people and several officers were injured. 

On Friday, Police Minister Poto Williams pinned some of the blame for the protesters' action on social media. 

"There's no doubt that there is some further work to do, not just by police but all of us, to ensure those who are feeling really marginalised, who are feeling disaffected are able to have a sense of being restored back into the whole," Williams told AM. 

"From my point of view, having come from an environment where violence, family harm and mental health are apparent, there's no doubt that there are people who live on the edges, there's no doubt that things like social media and the algorithms that form the content that we access have contributed to a lot of what's happened here."

Williams said everyone has a role to play in helping some of the more "disaffected" protesters reintegrate into society. 

But Williams said there was no excuse for the disrespectful behaviour over the past week. 

"There's no doubt that what has happened over the past three weeks in Wellington has been excessive, it's been disrespectful to our precious places and it's been intimidating and threatening. 

"But what I want to see going forward is a real conversation and dialogue about how we as a country can increase the edges so we include people so much more that they don't feel like they're not part of the picture we are painting as a nation."

Williams said the protesters left on Wednesday were the most disaffected and violent. 

The Minister said police are actively monitoring other protest activity around the country and will act very quickly if things get out of hand. 

It's not the first time a politician has pointed the blame at social media for violence. In the aftermath of the Christchurch, terror attacks Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined forces with French President Emmanuel Macron in an effort to tackle the use of tech platforms to distribute and find extremist violent content.