Thousands of Australian anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in the streets of Melbourne on Saturday. At times, the demonstrations against lockdowns became violent with protesters attacking police and law enforcement spraying rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd.
Thursday marked the 200th day of lockdowns in Melbourne. On Friday, the state of Victoria announced the extension of regional lockdowns until at least Sept. 2, which includes the 5 million residents of Melbourne. The lockdowns include no private gatherings allowed, a five-kilometer travel limit, and travel is limited only "to get necessary supplies such as food and medicine; to give or receive care; for exercise, limited to two hours a day; to attend work if you are an authorized worker with a permit, or to get a vaccine," according to The Age. There is also a curfew in place for Greater Melbourne from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and a mask mandate enacted. The new lockdowns were implemented after there were 77 new coronavirus cases.
There were an estimated 4,000 anti-lockdown protesters, including families, calling for an end to the draconian lockdowns in Melbourne on Saturday. The demonstrators chanted "Freedom!" and "No more lockdown!"
Thousands of Aussies in Melbourne chant "no more lockdown" 💪 https://t.co/xitH2nLppZ— Sydney Watson (@Sydney Watson)1629518686.0
More than a thousand anti lockdown protestors are marching through Melbourne streets, with flares being set off as… https://t.co/XcIxQlNJ2T— news.com.au (@news.com.au)1629515632.0
Thousands of protesters in Melbourne. @theage https://t.co/wgaYUyDZgW— Rachael Dexter (@Rachael Dexter)1629513873.0
Melbourne rally almost into its third hour. Still families out. Numbers may have weaned slightly but core group sti… https://t.co/ZBBEdV3MZw— Rachael Dexter (@Rachael Dexter)1629518287.0
More than 700 Victoria police were dispatched to break up the rally that violated the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown orders.
Vicpol moving en masse to tail the crowd from a distance. Well over 1000 protesters now @theage https://t.co/3TxYJYTj3P— Rachael Dexter (@Rachael Dexter)1629512570.0
Aggressive protesters stormed police barricades. Police fired rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas at the crowd.
#BREAKING: Police fire rubber bullets and pepper spray into a large crowd of lockdown protesters in Melbourne. Ful… https://t.co/yFn0ReG5Lm— Avi Yemini 🇦🇺🇮🇱 (@Avi Yemini 🇦🇺🇮🇱)1629516669.0
Today in Melbourne (Australia), police fired rubber bullets at unarmed protesters during an anti-lockdown march. Fu… https://t.co/sBaXP1PdK2— real Rukshan (@real Rukshan)1629537651.0
Crazy scenes in Victoria right now. Melbourne anti-lockdown protests have turned violent. Dozens of police officers… https://t.co/ixzH5picdn— Kevin Nguyen (@Kevin Nguyen)1629513190.0
There were six police officers taken to the hospital from altercations during the rally. Victoria police arrested 218 people, who could be fined up to $3,887 for breaching public health orders. There were three people in custody for assaulting police officers.
"While there were some peaceful protesters in attendance, the majority of those who attended came with violence in mind," a Victoria police spokeswoman said. "The behavior seen by police was so hostile and aggressive that they were left with no choice but to use all tactics available to them."
6 police officers have been hospitalised after today’s protest. 218 people were arrested and 236 fines. Victoria Po… https://t.co/e0pQZ4OIxB— Mimi Becker (@Mimi Becker)1629530632.0
There were also anti-lockdown protests attended by thousands of Australians in Brisbane and Sydney on Saturday.
Approximately 1,500 police officers were deployed into Sydney to control the anti-lockdown demonstrations with an estimated 250 participants. The New South Wales Police said they made 47 arrests and issued 261 fines across NSW, most of which were connected with the demonstration.
Last week, the fines for breaking lockdown rules in Sydney were hiked up to $3,700 for anyone breaching stay-at-home orders or for lying to contract-tracing officials, NBC News reported. The NSW government says an individual faces a maximum penalty of A$11,000 ($7,840), or imprisonment for 6 months, or both, and another A$5,500 ($3,920) penalty "may apply for each day the offense continues."
The Brisbane protest against lockdowns and COVID-19 vaccine measures had more than 2,000 demonstrators and was more peaceful; Queensland state police said no arrests were made.
https://t.co/5Dh4S28jvO— Josh Bavas (@Josh Bavas)1629512727.0
Brisbane protesters are now marching through the CBD, guided by police. @9NewsAUS @9NewsQueensland https://t.co/2Y5eLx9JM9— Reece D'Alessandro (@Reece D'Alessandro)1629520619.0