Thousands of anti Lockdown activists marched through major Australian cities on Saturday following an expansion of Covid-19 restrictions. After brawls broke out, several people were arrested and dozens charged with criminal offenses.
Protesters shouted “Freedom” as they entered downtown Sydney without masks. They blocked traffic and walked through Haymarket, a suburb identified as a coronavirus hotspot by NSW Chief Health Officer Jeremy McAnulty.
NSW police declared the gathering based on the Covid-19 regulations for illegal that prevent people from different households from coming together.
Wrangling broke out after mounted police officers and officers were used on foot to disperse the crowd.
Big protest against the lockdown in the Sydney CBD. Thousands of demonstrators sing “freedom”. This man was arrested after being pushed into a police officer pic.twitter.com/oDiG88lSyM
– Georgie Mitchell (@gmitch_news) 24. July 2021
Australian media reported that some threw objects at the officials and that pepper spray was used against the protesters. Several protesters were pinned to the ground during arrests. An activist was filmed performing tricks with fire sticks in front of a crowd.
New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott said 57 had been charged, some of them with multiple crimes, and were More than 90 violations of them have been enacted.
“What we saw today were 3,500 very selfish idiots – people who thought the law didn’t apply to them,” Elliott said, urging everyone Participants to be tested for Covid-19. He added that blatant disregard of quarantine rules would only prolong the lockdown.
The minister announced that a task force of 22 detectives had been set up to identify and track down those who attended the rally on Saturday.
Similar protests took place in Melbourne, where torches were lighted and arrests were made outside Parliament Buildings, and in Brisbane. Vaccination opponents were also involved in the rallies.
The strict lockdowns in the greater Sydney area and in the state of Victoria were recently extended to July 30 and July 27, respectively, after the situation regarding coronavirus cases did not change had improved. On Friday, NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian described the outbreak of the more contagious Delta variant as a “national emergency”.
New South Wales, which includes Sydney, reported 163 locally transmitted cases a new daily record on Saturday. Victoria, where Melbourne is located, recorded 12 locally transmitted cases.
As with previous public gatherings, officials actively sought to discourage people from gathering during the pandemic. Australian Health Secretary Brad Hazzard said anyone who took part in anti-lockdown protests was “really silly”.
“Right now we have cases that are through the ceiling go up and we have people who think it’s okay to go out and possibly be close to each other at a demonstration, âhe said.
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