Hundreds of fines have been issued and dozens charged in Sydney after anti-lockdown protesters marched and clashed with police in what one deputy commissioner called “violent, filthy, risky behaviour”.
The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, said on Sunday the previous day’s protests – in which thousands breached the region’s coronavirus measures to protest – were “selfish and self-defeating”, adding: “It achieves no purpose. It won’t end the lockdown sooner.”
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said was “utterly disgusted” by the scenes, saying: “It just broke my heart that people had such a disregard for their fellow citizens.”
Detectives are now combing social media and footage from CCTV and police-worn body cameras to identify and punish everyone who defied stay-at-home orders, which are now entering their fifth week.
Police said on Sunday they had issued 510 fines in the past 24 hours, with the “vast majority” coming from Saturday’s protest. At least 57 people have been charged over the unrest, including two for allegedly striking a police horse.
The state’s police minister, David Elliott, was scathing of Saturday’s disturbances, saying: “Sydney isn’t immune from morons.”
Victorian officials criticised similar protests in the state capital, Melbourne. The state’s Covid-19 testing commander, Jeroen Weimar, described those who took to the stresses as a “small minority having a self-indulgent tantrum”, with the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, warning that you “cannot vaccinate against selfishness”.