While many Victorians are happy and relieved at the easing of the tough lockdown regulations in Greater Melbourne, not everyone is pleased. And they’re not afraid to say so.
Police in the Melbourne CBD yesterday arrested more than 400 anti-lockdown protestors in a sometimes violent confrontation outside Parliament House. Demonstrators were sprayed with capsicum spray and a female police officer was taken to hospital with a suspected broken arm.
The protestors, some without masks, were chanting “freedom” and calling for the resignation of state Premier, Daniel Andrews. They held up placards with slogans such as ‘Tell the Truth’, ‘Not Happy Dan’, ‘Masks Don’t Work’ and ‘Corona Hoax 1984’.
Against ‘government tyranny’
According to a report by ABC News, one person interviewed said he was protesting against “government tyranny”. “[I’m protesting against] them trying to bring in social credit scores, forced vaccines, and track and trace everywhere,” he told the broadcaster.
The man said evidence of his concern was “all over the internet”. He urged the ABC to “stop being fake news for five minutes” and look it up.
According to Victoria Police, just over 404 people were arrested and 395 penalty notices were issued for infringements such as not wearing a mask, breaching public gathering directions, or not sticking to the 25km travel zone requirements.
Protestors arrested for assault
Most people were fined and released, although several were taken into custody for assaulting police officers or failing to provide names and addresses.
Police said a large number of demonstrators had “showed disregard for the safety of the broader community and the directions of the Chief Health Officer (CHO)”.
“Victoria Police will not hesitate to fine those who clearly and blatantly breach the Chief Health Officer directions,” they said.
Keep the state safe and open
In turn, some demonstrators said police were over-zealous in their use of force and unnecessary use of spray.
The state’s health minister, Martin Foley, said keeping Victoria safe and open was more important than the democratic right to protest.
“People who want to get around the rules in smart-alec approaches are just asking for trouble,” he said prior to the demonstration. “Don’t protest. Now is not the time to protest. Keep safe, follow the rules and keep us open.”