Anti-lockdown protesters swarm a suburban park in Melbourne before being chased off by police on horseback as several are arrested during a tension-filled ‘Freedom Rally’
- More than 100 anti-lockdown protesters have gathered Elsternwick Park in Brighton, 11km from city’s CBD
- Police are circling the area, arresting protesters yelling ‘disgraceful’, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’, ‘no violence’
- The first protest kicked off at the State Library in Melbourne from 11am, with a second shortly after at 12pm
- Saturday’s events follow concern anti-lockdown protesters are threatening to cause another virus outbreak
Anti-lockdown protesters swarming a suburban park in Melbourne have been chased off by police on horseback.
Up to 100 people gathering at Elsternwick Park in Brighton dispersed to Elwood when faced with a long line of officers at the site, 11km from Melbourne’s CBD.
Protests were announced by rally organisers about 10.30am on Saturday before kicking off at the State Library at 11am. A second closely followed an hour later.
Police seen circling Elsternwick Park included officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit and Highway Patrol.
A helicopter also monitored the situation from above.
Protesters marching along Elwood beach about 1pm have been dispersed a third time and several arrests have been made.
More than 100 people have gathered at Elsternwick Park (pictured) in Brighton, 11 km south-east of Melbourne’s central business district
The first protest kicked off at the State Library from 11am, with a second shortly after at 12pm. Pictured: A woman being arrested
Shouting Premier Daniel Andrews and coronavirus restrictions was heard throughout the disjointed protest.
There was ‘a lot of running and not much protesting,’ one photographer said.
Another described the exercise as ‘chaotic’.
Some protesters continued to scatter through backstreets, even jumping fences into private property.
One arrested by police was filmed by Nine News telling officers: ‘Wake up, I know you already know this is wrong.’
Protesters on Saturday dispersed near the foreshore about 1pm, with police arresting many (pictured)
In video captured of the event, protesters can be heard yelling ‘disgraceful’, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’, ‘no violence’ and ‘peaceful’ as officers stand nearby.
A man can be seen being arrested as he questions: ‘Officers, why are you doing this. I’ve never done anything wrong in my life. Please, this is enough. It’s only going to get worse. Who is going to fight for you.’
Premier Daniel Andrews said the protest was selfish and irresponsible.
He added it was an unlawful act and told protesters: ‘Go home and follow the rules. There is no need to protest about anything. It is not safe’.
‘It just doesn’t make any sense. You are potentially putting the strategy at risk. No-one should be doing anything to contribute to the spread of this virus, 21 cases today, seriously. This is working. We’re getting there,’ he said, The Age reported.
Saturday’s events follow concern anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne are threatening to cause another COVID-19 outbreak as the city teeters on the brink of a third explosion and cases surge in the southeast.
Police (pictured) are circling the area, including officers from Public Order Response, the Mounted Unit and Highway Patrol
Public health authorities are racing to stop infections growing in the Casey and Dandenong council areas on the Melbourne’s southeast rim, which now has 90 active cases.
Five households in Clyde, Cranbourne North, Hallam and Narre Warren South are linked to 34 active cases.
Daniel Andrews urged covidiots on Saturday not to gather at planned protests across the city or ‘do anything to undermine’ its progress with tackling COVID-19.
It comes as Victoria recorded 21 new cases of COVID-19, the lowest daily increase since June, and a further seven deaths.
Metropolitan Melbourne’s 14-day average has plummeted and now sits at 39.3 as the state moves to a COVID normal. In regional Victoria, the 14-day average is at just 1.9.
Daniel Andrews (pictured) urged covidiots on Saturday not to gather at planned protests across the city or ‘do anything to undermine’ its progress with tackling COVID-19
A heavy Police presence is seen in Dandenong following an anti-lockdown protest on August 28
This is the ninth day in a row Victoria has recorded a daily infections increase below 50.
Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown – limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew.
The premier did not comment on where Saturday demonstrations would be, with protesters taking caution when sharing information online.
Multiple rallies have taken place in Melbourne the past few weekends.
Victoria Police have responded with a heavy presence – handing out dozens of fines and making arrests.
‘Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this week we have seen, day after day, not the 725 cases we had five and a half weeks ago – we have made very significant progress,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘We’ve got regional Victoria opening up. People should be positive and optimistic this strategy is working, and therefore, let’s not any of us do anything to undermine that.’
The premier on Saturday did not comment on where Saturday demonstrations would be, with protesters taking caution when sharing information online. Pictured: Protesters rallying against lockdown regulations on Monday on September 13
Mr Andrews’ comments also followed trying to dissuade protesters on Friday by saying their intended actions would be selfish and irresponsible.
His comments also followed information of a new cluster emerging in the southeast of Melbourne.
A surge of cases in the Casey and Dandenong area has been linked back to five households in the Afghan community.
There are currently 101 active coronavirus cases in the Casey and Dandenong area with 34 infections linked to five households
Metropolitan Melbourne is under strict Stage Four lockdown – limiting Melburnians travelling more than 5km from their homes and enforcing a 9pm to 5am curfew. Pictured: A person walking through Melbourne’s empty city
As residents in the city are still under strict Stage Four lockdown, it is thought the infected group may have breached the stay-at-home orders.
Health authorities are scrambling to track and trace the new surge in cases, and the Victorian government has begun a recruitment drive which sees retired officers re-enlisted to bolster the state’s frontline virus efforts.
‘Members of those households visiting other households,’ Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing commander Jeroen Weimar said.
‘It is that limited amount of contact, relatively infrequent contact between these five households that has now meant that we have 34 people in five houses experiencing or living with a very real threat of the coronavirus.’
The Victorian government has even began a new recruitment drive that will see retired officers re-enlisted to bolster the state’s frontline virus efforts
Police conducting checks on motorists at checkpoints – alongside the Australian Defence Force – to ensure Victorians are following state rules
The cluster – impacting five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North – first emerged on September 4.
Cases in the southeast have now spread to Dandenong Police Station and a number of industrial work sites.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Friday said the actions of the family’s involved in the cluster was ‘disappointing’.
The cluster which has impacted the five households in Hallam, Clyde, Narre Warren South and Cranbourne North, first emerged on September 4
‘Five kilometres is one thing and visiting others is the real issue here,’ he said.
‘The rules are in place for a reason and anyone who undermines this, undermines the entire strategy and it means the rules will be on for longer.’
The Victorian leader, however, ruled out fines for the group, telling reporters it may discourage others from being completely honest with contact tracers.
‘I know many Victorians, when you see examples of people not following the rules, that’s disappointing, it makes you angry,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘You need to look at the bigger picture here.
‘We don’t want a situation where people don’t have a sense of confidence and indeed, you know, the sense they’re obliged to tell us the full story as quickly as possible. That’s what we need.’
The success of Melbourne’s ongoing lockdown could be at risk with a new cluster in the southeast of the city. Pictured: A coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17
The Casey and Dandenong cluster is testing the capacity of COVID-detectives. Pictured: Heath workers are seen at a coronavirus testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17
A health worker is pictured approaching a vehicle at a COVID-19 testing centre in Cranbourne on September 17
Despite the new cluster, Victoria’s overall case numbers are continuing to decline.
With contact tracers ‘painstakingly’ working around the clock to slow the spread of the virus and bringing the city out of lockdown, the Victorian government is set to introduce a controversial new policy seeing retired cops re-enlisted in the force.
The Department of Justice and Community Safety and the Department of Health and Human Services is behind the push which will see former cops given paid training before being assigned specific COVID-19 roles.
These roles include industry enforcement, testing support, door-knocking and the airport patrol.
A man with a dog is seen being questioned by two police officers in the Dandenong area
However, not everybody is in favour of the move to bring back veteran police.
‘Police veterans have a real contribution to make to the ongoing safety of the community but their use to issue infringements, detain people and conduct checks on private property is entirely inappropriate,’ Opposition Police and Community Safety spokesman David Southwick told the Herald Sun.
Ivan Ray, who served in the Victorian Police Force for more than three decades, said it was a recipe for disaster for the veterans.
‘It’s effectively a health department police force, and we know the Health Department is no good at enforcement, we saw that in the hotel quarantine operation,’ Mr Ray said.
‘Veterans can play a part and they can support policing, but it has to be by the police department.’
Health authorities are urging anyone in the southeast of Melbourne to diligently monitor their health and immediately get tested if feeling unwell.
Health authorities are urging anyone in the southeast of Melbourne to diligently monitor their health and immediately get tested if feeling unwell