Police arrest 74 after anti-lockdown rally erupts in Melbourne

Victoria Police arrested 74 people and handed out 176 fines during an anti-lockdown rally that resulted in clashes between officers and protesters.

Authorities say up to 250 people went to the rally held at the Queen Victoria Market alone.

Mounted police and heavily armed riot police were among hundreds of officers swarming the CBD today to stamp out the protests, which are unlawful under current Public Health Orders.

A protester is dragged away by a police officer at Queen Victoria market. (Nine – Erin Pearson – The Age)
Police were seen making dozens of arrests in the streets of Melbourne. (9News)

Police believe a 44-year-old man from Burwood East was one of the main organisers of the rally. He is still in custody tonight and is expected to be charged and his home searched.

One other person was also arrested for assaulting police during today’s protests.

Swarms of heavily-protected police entered Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market during the rally. (9News)
There is a huge police presence in the Melbourne CBD today as officers crack down on a second day running of anti-lockdown protests. (9News)

“Police were disappointed that many protesters were aggressive and threatened violence towards officers,” a Victoria Police statement said this afternoon.

“There were no injuries to police that have been identified at this time.

“It was extremely disappointing to see people not just protesting, but putting the lives of other Victorians at risk despite all the warnings.”

One group of protesters on Peel Street in the CBD huddled together and linked arms as they were surrounded by a ring of riot police.

One man could be seen being dragged away by heavily-armed officers.

Shielded officers lined up around the Queen Victoria Market. (9News)
Protesters masking their faces were spotted voicing their concerns with Victoria’s current coronavirus restrictions. (9News)
One group of protesters linked arms as they were surrounded by riot police on Peel Street. (9News)

Another group was heard chanting “freedom” as it marched through the court precinct in the inner city.

A number of protesters have reportedly travelled into Melbourne to take part, in defiance of border bans.

One mother and daughter duo who travelled from Bendigo, a two-hour drive north of Melbourne, told police they didn’t care if they were fined as they would fight it in court.

It comes after protests in Melbourne’s CBD yesterday were crushed by authorities, with police outnumbering the attendees.

A man sits on the ground with his hands in the air as officers arrest him at the Queen Victoria market (Nine – Erin Pearson – The Age)
Tensions are at an all-time high between police and protesters, amid dozens of arrests. (9News)

In an online group chat, participants blamed each other for the lacklustre turnout.

Today, organisers didn’t reveal locations for today’s protests until 20 minutes before they were due to start in an effort to outsmart police.

The protest was also broken up into a series of smaller groups in an effort to evade authorities.

A well-known anti-lockdown activist called police “dogs” as he was arrested at Queen Victoria market earlier today. (9News / Lana Murphy)

Earlier today, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews praised the “outstanding” job of police amid allegations of heavy-handedness.

“No protest is … anything other than selfish at this time,” Mr Andrews told this morning’s press conference.

“You can say ‘it is a peaceful and safe protest’ – no, it’s not, because the virus spreads with movement.”

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