Protestors

Thousands March Against Lockdown in Major Australian Cities

Anti-lockdown protests across the world seem to be occurring both more regularly and on larger scales. Most recently, thousands have marched in major Australian cities, including Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, against restrictive measures, with more than half of Australians currently under lockdown.

After the protests had ended, the New South Wales Police Minister, David Elliott, issued a stern warning to all who marched – not just the few who turned violent. He announced the formation of “Strike Force Seasoned, which will see 22 detectives work from now until whenever it concludes identifying as many people as possible who attended today’s incident and have them charged”. He went on:

I’m hoping that we issue 3,500 infringement notices, I’m hoping that we have people before the court, and I really hope that we can get some charges and convictions out of today’s work by the New South Wales Police. It’s essential for people to get the message. And to those that are calling for it to occur again next week, look out because these 400 officers will turn to 4,000 if needs be.

The Guardian has more.

Thousands of angry, unmasked people marched through the Sydney central business district on Saturday afternoon demanding an end to the city’s lockdown, which is entering its fifth week.

[David] Elliott said 57 people were arrested and several police officers had been assaulted.

“If we don’t see a [Covid] spike in the areas these protesters came from in the next week I’ll be very, very surprised,” Elliott said.

“It was just a whole lot of halfwits.”

Demonstrators broke through barriers in the Sydney CBD and threw plastic bottles at police.

Similar scenes unfolded in Melbourne and Adelaide, which are both in lockdown, and Brisbane, which is not.

As demonstrators were gathering in Sydney, the New South Wales Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, revealed a record number of new coronavirus cases had been detected – 163 in the previous 24 hours – and pleaded with people to stay at home. …

Hazzard condemned the planned protests as “really silly” on Saturday morning.

“We live in a democracy and normally I am certainly one who supports people’s rights to protest… but at the present time we’ve got cases going through the roof and we have people thinking that’s OK to get out there and possibly be close to each other at a demonstration.” …

In Melbourne, thousands of protesters turned out in the central business district chanting “freedom”. …

Protesters held banners, including one that read: “This is not about a virus it’s about total Government control of the people.”

The protest was brought to a violent end by police. An AAP photographer wearing visible press accreditation was pepper sprayed as police cleared the rally, as were other photographers.

The Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, had labelled the idea of protesting against the lockdown as “ridiculous”.

“Protest against this virus by staying at home, following the rules and getting out of lockdown,” he said. …

A car rally is also planned for locked-down Adelaide, the state capital of South Australia, with police warning they will make arrests over unlawful activity.

Worth reading in full.

First They Came For the Anti-Lockdown Protestors…

Twitter was aflame last night with prominent politicians and journalists condemning the Metropolitan Police’s heavy-handed treatment of women gathering on Clapham Common at a vigil to mourn the death of Sarah Everard and calling for the resignation of Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The irony, of course, is that these are the very same people who’ve enthusiastically supported the lockdowns, including the suspension of the right to protest, and who’ve condemned anti-lockdown protestors for being “selfish” and “irresponsible”.

I’m sorry, but if you didn’t object to the Metropolitan Police’s brutal tactics in dispersing anti-lockdown protestors in Trafalgar Square last September, you cannot condemn their employment of identical tactics last night. Either you defend the right to protest for everyone, or you defend it for no one. You cannot just get worked up about it when it affects those whose cause you approve of.

You cheered when our Government suspended our civil liberties, claiming it was “necessary” to contain a virus that kills 0.25% of those who catch it and which, if you’re under-65, is less deadly than an average bout of seasonal flu. You cheered when our Government continued to pursue its reckless lockdown policy in the face of mounting evidence that it causes more harm than it prevents, destroying hospitality and retail businesses, wreaking havoc with children’s mental health and separating people from their loved ones. You cheered when the tiny handful of people who took to our streets to demonstrate against the suspension of our liberties were led away in handcuffs, branding them “Covid deniers” and “conspiracy theorists”.

This is on you.

This is what an authoritarian state looks like.