Dozens of arrests as Melbourne’s anti-lockdown protest turns violent with more than 1,000 angry locals defying attempt to cancel event – while demonstrators gather in huge numbers in Byron Bay
- Protesters have been arrested at Freedom Day rally in Melbourne on Saturday morning after 1,000 turned out
- Swarms turned up to ‘Freedom Day’ marches in the coronavirus-hit city – demanding an end to lockdown
- Alarming footage captured demonstrators lying on the ground while being taken away in handcuffs
- Dozens of Melburnians have been arrested, with many refusing to wear face masks during the mass protests
- Meanwhile in Byron Bay, protesters have also descended onto the streets demanding ‘freedom for Victoria’
A swarm of more than 1,000 anti-lockdown protesters have descended on Melbourne and clashed with police officers in wild scenes as the ‘Freedom Day’ rally threatens to spiral out of control.
Frustrated activists, furious with Daniel Andrew’s Stage Four lockdown, turned out in their droves to demand the restrictions come to an end, with new coronavirus cases now in the double digits.
Shocking footage shows the horde of protesters, many refusing to wear masks and battling with police, as the city’s CBD was brought to a standstill as traffic was diverted from the area.
Dramatic scenes saw demonstrators tackled to the ground while officers struggled to detain them.
The protests kicked off at the Shrine of Remembrance but coronavirus-deniers have since taken to the streets, stopping traffic near Albert Park.
One crowd faced off with police on horseback as the chant ‘freedom’ rang out across the city while 15 people were arrested and more than 150 fines given out.
Of those arrests, 14 were for breaching COVID-19 restrictions and one was for assaulting a police officer after a cop was hit round the head as the protests turned violent.
Meanwhile protests have erupted in Byron Bay with one onlooker telling Daily Mail Australia crowds were chanting ‘free Victoria’.
Anti-lockdown protesters were bombarded with police outside the Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday (pictured)
One man is seen shouting for the end of lockdown during the wild protests on Saturday. It’s believed dozens have been arrested
A standoff between Victorian police officers and coronavirus-deniers is seen outside the Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday
One man had a mask forced upon him by Victorian police officers – claiming he was going to the dentist
THe man is seen arguing with police at the march on Saturday. Thousands vowed to attend the protest but many announced they would not turn up in the days before the march
One man had his shirt ripped off during the violent protests in Melbourne on Saturday. He is seen being led away by police
Ralliers were warned a large police presence would be seen if they attended the protests which defy Melbourne’s strict COVID-19 restrictions.
One man claimed he was going to see the dentist when confronted by police outside the Shrine of Remembrance.
Police later arrested the man and forced a face mask upon him, The Herald Sun reported.
Officers in riot gear have since descended onto the streets as the protest continues to make its way across the city.
In the lead up to the march, many of the anti-lockdown movement’s most notorious members announced they would no longer attend and urged others to boycott the event.
James Bartolo was charged with incitement on Friday for allegedly encouraging his mass following to attend the rally.
Following his arrest, Bartolo announced he would not be at the march.
The mass crowds or protesters were outmatched by police who swarmed the Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday
One man is seen caught in a scuffle with a Victorian police officer during the protest (pictured on Saturday) with wild scenes caught on camera
One woman with a top reading: ‘Freedom’ was seen being dragged away by two police officers and she desperately tried to fight them off
Police scramble to detain a women seen at the protest in Melbourne on Saturday morning. A large number of demonstrators have been arrested
Another man was seen walked away from the demonstration by police officers with his shirt pulled over his arm
Hundreds of protesters were at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance but they were outmatched by the mass of police
Officers scuffle with another protester refusing to wear a mask as the Freedom Day rally spirals out of control
Officers and Melburnians fall to the ground during dramatic arrests from the anti-lockdown protest on Saturday
‘Don’t go, it’s a trap. But don’t live in fear – I got arrested, they stole my shit, it’s a pain in the a**e but whatever, I’m fine,’ he said.
Police later released a statement calling the march ‘disappointing’ and criticising attendees for ‘putting the lives of Victorians at risk’.
One woman with a top reading: ‘Freedom’ was seen being dragged away by two police officers as she desperately tried to fight them off.
Meanwhile, another man was seen dragged away from the demonstration with his shirt pulled up around his arm.
Despite the hundreds of protesters in attendance, they were no match for the army of police.
It’s believed around 200 people had gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance by Saturday morning, Nine News reported.
Police on horseback have since formed a line along the steps of the building with protesters reportedly throwing punches to break through.
The coronavirus-sceptics armed with ‘end the lockdown’ signs and Australian flags have continued to make their way across the city into Albert Park.
One woman had her sign that read: ‘End the lockdown the people are suffering’ confiscated by police.
A man is placed under arrest at the anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne on Saturday. Many were seen clashing with police
Victorian police officers pin down a man who had attended the march in Melbourne on Saturday (pictured) as thousands breached health laws
A woman without a mask is seen holding a sign that reads: ‘End the lockdown the people are suffering’ during Saturday’s protest
Police then clashed with the protester and took away her anti-lockdown signs (pictured) as cops clashed with Melburnians
Police arrest one demonstrator while holding back another during the rally in Melbourne. It comes after Victoria recorded 76 new coronavirus cases
The large crowd which has reportedly grown into the thousands has even stopped traffic throughout Melbourne’s CBD.
Police helicopters are circling overhead keeping a watchful eye on the furious protesters below.
In Sydney mayhem unfolded as well with another group of protesters arrested.
Hundreds gathered at Hyde Park including boxing champ Anthony Mundine who said the killer disease is just a cover-up.
‘I support people coming together and standing up against injustice. It’s a dictatorship. A tyrannical reign,’ he told The Sunday Telegraph.
‘COVID is just a symptom of 5G radiation – it’s a cover up.’
Three arrests were made at Hyde Park including a 44-year-old man and a 54-year-old for allegedly assaulting police and another woman for failing to comply with a move on notice.
Police also issued $1,000 fines to 18 people for ignoring COVID-19 restrictions.
One man, Sam Hansen, 26, who was also arrested in Sydney on Saturday, said he believed the virus wasn’t real.
‘I’m here because I believe in freedom. I don’t like the lockdown laws. I think the entire COVID cyborg is a massive scam,’ he said.
Other rallies kicked off at Sydney Olympic Park in Homebush with demonstrators singing the Australian national anthem.
Back in Melbourne, Married At First Sight star Hayley Vernon, was also seen clashing with officers outside the Shrine of Remembrance.
Married At First Sight star Hayley Vernon (pictured) also attended the protest on Saturday
The reality TV star clashed with officers outside the Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday
The dramatic marches come just one day before Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reveals the ‘road map’ plan for the state out of lockdown, which is due to end at 11.59pm on September 13.
Earlier leaked documents suggested the 8pm-5am curfew and tough restrictions on businesses would continue for another two weeks, with the economy already in a tatters after thousands were forced to close.
According to the leaked documents, residents could be given the luxury of two hours of exercise a day, which can be split into two sessions, from September 14 – the official date Stage Four comes to an end.
The report stated that from September 28, up to five people, including children, from up to two households will be allowed to meet outdoors for social interaction.
Permits will no longer be required for childcare and in-home childminding, according to the document.
Outdoor personal training would be allowed for up to two people per trainer and outdoor pools will open for exercise for up to 20 people at a time.
Officials have insisted the document is ‘out of date’, and that the new rules for coming out of lockdown will be announced on Sunday.
Police line up on horseback in Melbourne as hundreds of protesters descend onto the coronavirus-riddled city
One woman is led away by officers after partaking in the Freedom Day protest on Saturday
The woman is placed into the back of a police vehicle upon her arrest in Melbourne
Meanwhile in northern NSW, protests have also spiralled out of control in Byron Bay.
Huge masses of residents armed with megaphones and signs took the streets of the popular beach town demanding ‘freedom’ and ‘free choice’.
One barefooted man was dragged away by NSW police officers and thrown into a paddy wagon following the mass rally.
Others flashed signs and banners reading: ‘Free choice for all, let us decide’.
One onlooker told Daily Mail Australia the crowds were chanting ‘Free Victoria’.
‘We were very confused, we were like ‘why are people chanting ‘free Victoria’?’ the witness said.
‘We assumed it was a Black Lives Matter protest until we read the signs.’
Premier Daniel Andrews has warned ‘thousands’ of Victorians would die if strict coronavirus restrictions were to be lifted.
Stage Four restrictions in Melbourne, and Stage Three in the rest of the state, are set to lift on September 13 after weeks of enduring the miserable lockdown.
But speaking on Saturday, a day ahead of his announcement on easing restrictions, Mr Andrews said lockdown was unlikely to end.
‘To open up with those numbers would, of course, see the total number of coronavirus infections explode,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘It would see many, many hundreds, indeed thousands, of Victorians infected with this virus.
‘So, as frustrating, as challenging as it is, we need to stay the course on this.
‘That’s why tomorrow we will outline a road map to ease these important restrictions, to ease out of the second wave, once it’s appropriately and properly defeated. Truly defeated.’
Victoria recorded 76 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths on Saturday, with the welcome infection numbers coming after a spike earlier in the week saw 113 new cases after days of double digit transmission.
Friday was Victoria’s deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with 59 deaths announced – but 50 of those had occurred back in July and August in aged care homes.
Protests have also erupted out of control in Byron Bay, in northern NSW. Residents have held banners reading: ‘free choice for all. Let us decide’
Residents armed with megaphones called out for freedom in the idyllic beach holiday destination on Saturday
One barefooted man was dragged away by police and thrown into a paddy wagon following the protests
Huge numbers gathered together for the protest in Byron Bay on Saturday
The huge turn out came despite the rally’s own organisers urging people not to go, saying the Andrews government would use it as an excuse to extend lockdown.
James Bartolo, who has been a face of the anti-lockdown campaign urged his mass following not to attend the protest.
Sharing a video on his personal Facebook page, the 27-year-old said Saturday’s march was the ‘worst possible thing’ to do – believing it would prolong the lockdown.
‘It is a set up from the get go. It is all just terrible. Don’t go to that one,’ he said.
‘I say don’t go because I am concerned about the safety of the brave men and women who plan to go. The police are not forcing me to say anything.’
Bartolo said that with the road map out of Stage Four restrictions to be revealed on Sunday, marches on Saturday would do more harm than good.
But Bartolo was singing a different tune in a video on Thursday night that was likely part of the reason he was arrested.
‘I suggest if you’re thinking of going or not going… just f**king go,’ he said.
In the same video he gave protesters tips on how to conduct themselves on Saturday, including to avoid police and be compliant.
Bartolo claimed to not be involved in actually organising the protest, which he said was planned ‘terribly’ and following ones needed to be done a lot better.
James Bartolo (pictured) one of the biggest anti-lockdown pushers has now said he will not attend the protest after he was arrested for incitement
Bartolo urged his followers not to attend the planned protest on Saturday
WHAT MELBOURNE’S STAGE FOUR LOCKDOWN MEANS FOR YOU
State of disaster: Increased police powers to enforce the lockdown. Cautions will no longer be issued, only $1,652 fines or court summons
Curfew: No one allowed outside 8pm to 5am except for work, medical, caregiving – no shopping or exercising
Distance limit: Shopping and exercise can only be done 5km from home
Exercise: All recreational activity is banned and you can only exercise, with one other person, for one hour a day
Partners: You can visit a boyfriend or girlfriend who doesn’t live with you, even if they live more than 5km away
Shopping: Only one person can go shopping per household per day
Cafes and restaurants stay open for takeaway, as do supermarkets, etc
Schools: All students learning from home unless they are vulnerable or parents are essential workers. Kindy and childcare closed
Funerals: No change to funeral limits, but only 10 mourners can leave Melbourne to regional Victoria for one
Weddings: Completely banned
Public transport: Slashed after 8pm and cancelled late at night
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