Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has called anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne ‘disgusting’, as it was revealed a police officer injured in the wild melee requires surgery.
‘Some of the scenes on Saturday were not only disgusting, but they were absolutely unlawful,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘The full force of the law will be brought upon those people. That’s what the chief commissioner has said and I support him on that.’
At least nine officers ended up in hospital after being pelted with projectiles, punched and kicked by members of a 4,000-strong crowd who turned out to protest the city’s Covid-19 lockdown on Saturday.
At least nine officers ended up in hospital after being pelted with projectiles, punched and kicked by members of a 4,000-strong crowd on Saturday
More than 200 people were arrested, including some on remand for previous crimes
The anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Melbourne despite current lockdown restrictions prohibiting outdoor gatherings
‘I will not really even call it a protest,’ Mr Andrews continued.
‘It was a mob protesting all different things and a whole lot of them intent of having a fight, regardless of what brought them together.
‘A few that wanted to punch on, plain and simple. Notwithstanding that disgusting behaviour, any illegal behaviour will be punished.’
Chief Commissioner Shane Patton described the protests as the most violent seen in the city in the last 20 years.
He said officers had no choice but to use non-lethal weapons to defend themselves from an angry mob that came armed and appeared intent on attacking them.
‘This wasn’t a group that had a specific leader,’ Commissioner Patton said.
‘It seemed that it was angry men … between 25 and 40, who were intent on causing this mayhem, intent on being involved in this criminal activity.
‘I just hope it doesn’t result in the mass spread of COVID-19.’
More than 200 people were arrested at the protest, including some on remand for previous crimes, with two people facing assault charges.
Commissioner Patton said fines totalling more than $1.18 million were issued, with those arrested each fined $5,452 for breaching the health directions.
‘None of us should be making the job of police any harder than it already is,’ Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said
Around 700 extra Victorian police officers met the anti-lockdown protest in the Melbourne CBD.
‘Shameful… None of us should be making the job of police any harder than it already is and none of us should act in that way towards members of Victoria Police,’ Mr Andrews said at Monday’s Victorian Covid update.
‘They are there to keep us safe. They put themselves in harm’s way every day.’
Injuries to the police officers included cuts, bruises, a suspected broken nose and a serious leg injury.
Mr Andrews backed up earlier comments by the police commissioner that he would ‘not tolerate’ such a protest occurring again, potentially shutting public transport and ride-shares ahead of any other planned demonstrations.
‘What we saw on the weekend is not acceptable and as the commissioner indicated, where they have grounds to go further, they absolutely will,’ he said.
‘I send my best wishes to each and every officer who was injured, to their families.’
Protests also took place in Sydney, Brisbane and on the NSW-Queensland border over the weekend.
Up to 2,000 people attended the border protest, which resulted in the arrest of nine people and more than 50 fines handed out for breaching public health orders.
Victoria recorded 71 new local coronavirus cases on Monday, with only 16 of those in isolation while infectious and 22 cases not linked to existing clusters.
Dan Andrews lashes out at ‘shameful and disgusting’ Melbourne anti-lockdown protesters