Melbourne police use capsicum spray to disperse anti-lockdown protesters

Police deploy capsicum spray onto protesters on Burnley Street Richmond in Melbourne, Australia. (DARRIAN TRAYNOR/GETTY IMAGES)

Anti-lockdown protestors assembled in Richmond and marched to Hawthorn to bypass checkpoints to keep them out of Melbourne's CBD. Australian police made many arrests and used capsicum spray on them.

To prevent the anti-lockdown protest from starting, public transportation and car travel in and out of Melbourne has come to a halt, but the rally has not been thoroughly thwarted.

Before the rally, initially scheduled for noon (local time) on Saturday, police set up checkpoints on city roads to prevent people from driving into Melbourne without a justification.

Protesters relocated to Richmond and began assembling outside the Richmond Town Hall on Bridge Road at lunchtime.

Hundreds of people marched down the street, yelling "no more lockdown" and "sack Dan Andrews." The majority of the people were not wearing masks.

The demonstrators continued up Bridge Rd before turning down Burnley St, where the procession came to a halt, and protesters squatted in the middle of the roadway, chanting at police, "you serve us."

Some demonstrators were subdued with capsicum spray by police, who were surrounded by cops using batons on two sides.

Later, another set of demonstrators arrived, sandwiching police at one end of the rally.

To get away from the cops, the protesters burst through an apartment complex gate, causing traffic havoc on Richmond's side streets.

They returned to Bridge Rd before heading up Church St in Hawthorn and then back down to Barkers Rd to escape the police. Police again cornered protesters in a gorge on Victoria St, who used capsicum spray to disperse them.

One protester cried from the crowd, "God gave us free will and freedom of choice; it is not for the government to take it away."

Another added, "The mental health toll is too great."

After looping through streets for up to ten kilometers in Melbourne's inner east, the protesters dispersed.

The anti-protest operation has deployed around 2000 officers, with senior police claiming that they will do all possible to deny entrance to the city.

After more than 4000 protesters converged on the city for the last anti-lockdown rally on August 21, police made 200 arrests.

Earlier this week, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said intelligence indicated that thousands of more people might intend to join Saturday's demonstration despite the tight limitations.

“To prevent this from happening, this is the most important game in town for us,” Patton added. “Nothing is more important than what we're about to do this weekend to put an end to this protest.

“We'll do everything we can to keep people out of town.”

Patton also stated that the longer the limits are in place, the more likely people will be penalized. He claimed that the more prolonged and severe the lockdown, the more likely people were to breach the regulations.

Only people traveling for vital jobs, healthcare, or vaccine appointments will access the CBD.

Cars were backed up for nearly 100 meters outside the Women's Hospital on Flemington Road earlier in the day as police scrutinized every car seeking to enter the CBD for a permit and identification.

Protesters were instructed to form smaller groups of 10 to 20 people before gathering near the demonstration's final location, according to rally instructions distributed over an encrypted messaging program.

After being warned that they would no longer use tea rooms, construction workers held a demonstration smoko on Friday, bringing traffic throughout Melbourne to a halt.

Publish : 2021-09-18 11:48:00

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