A second day of anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne has seen hundreds of demonstrators swarm Queen Victoria Markets.
At least 100 police officers, including those from Public Order Response unit, have the group surrounded and several people have already been arrested.
The ‘Freedom Walk’ comes one day after 14 people were arrested on Saturday for breaking COVID-19 restrictions.
On Sunday, hundreds of people took to the streets again, chanting ‘freedom’ and demanding draconian lockdown restrictions be eased.
Melbourne remains in a Stage Four lockdown, meaning residents cannot leave their houses without a valid reason, and restrictions are in place to limit movement more than 5km from a person’s home.
At least 100 police officers, including those from Public Order Response unit, have the group surrounded and several people have already been arrested
Police are seen at the Shrine of Remembrance before a planned anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, Saturday. The protest continued on Sunday
Several arrests have already been made during Sunday’s protests. Pictured: A man is detained during a planned anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, Saturday, September 12
On Sunday, hundreds of people took to the streets again, chanting ‘freedom’ and demanding draconian lockdown restrictions be eased
The restrictions remain in place, and both a State of Emergency and State of Disaster, have been extended a further four weeks despite the embattled state only recording 41 new cases and seven deaths on Sunday.
The latest figures released on Sunday morning take the state’s death toll to 723 and the national count to 810 since the start of the pandemic in late January.
Leading up to the demonstration, organisers allegedly used encrypted phone apps to communicate, in an attempt to avoid police finding out the location of the planned rally, Herald Sun reported.
In messages sent to participants, organisers encouraged people to ‘be agile, like water’ and stick together throughout the course of the day.
‘Be ready to swarm the location to assemble. Once we have assembled, we are all safe,’ one of the organisers allegedly said.
Tensions between police and protesters escalated about 11.45am on Sunday when about 50 people were cornered by police on Peel Street
Another mask-wearer was seen being spoken to by an officer while holding a sign that read: ‘I am just exercising…my human rights’
Pictured: Protesters at the rally on Saturday
‘Conducting these protests is dependent on having sufficiently large numbers to outnumber any police presence at a location of assembly.
‘Best way to achieve this is to ensure you have talked to everyone you know that might be interested in attending, and attempt to just bring at least one other person with you.’
Tensions between police and protesters escalated 11.45am on Sunday when about 50 people were cornered by police on Peel Street.
Riot police had to separate the crowd.
One man wearing a red and black bandanna told police he had lost faith in authorities throughout the pandemic.
He told police he felt unsafe in their presence, and that contributed to his decision to attend the illegal protest.
Members of the mounted police unit are out in full force in Victoria on Sunday. Pictured on Saturday
Police direct a man to move away during the Melbourne Freedom Walk Rally
The second protest for the weekend comes hours after a woman shared footage of police dragging her from a car
‘Dude I’m scared. I don’t even know how I’m going to pay this fine,’ he said.
‘Heartless soulless people. We’ve all lost faith.’
The second protest for the weekend comes hours after a woman shared footage of police dragging her from a car.
Natalie Bonett, 29, said she was making her way through the COVID blockade in Wallan, 60km north of Melbourne, on Saturday when she was stopped by police.
They informed her it was against the law to have her phone attached to a car charger which was mounted onto her windshield.
Following a brief and tense exchange, video shows the officer reach in drag the masked woman from her car as her passenger tried to pull her back in.
Ms Bonett, a lash technician in Melbourne, screamed and pulled away from the officer in the footage, demanding he stop touching her and get out of her car.
A passenger in the car attempted to hold her back, trying to tell the officer she’s ‘got anxiety’ while Ms Bonett became increasingly distressed.
‘What the f**k are you doing, what the f**k, get off me,’ she shouted at the officer.
Moments earlier, the cop had given her an opportunity to state her name, and asked her several times to get out of the car.
‘No, I don’t feel safe. You’re armed,’ she responded.
More to come.
Confronting footage shows the moment a young woman was dragged from her car screaming while she attempted to pass through a coronavirus checkpoint in Melbourne
Ms Bonett claimed officers called for backup when she wouldn’t leave her car and that a total of four police officers eventually arrested her
Police previously vowed to issue more $1,652 fines ahead of Sunday’s protest.
‘Police had significant prevention activity in the lead up to and duration of today’s which included visiting 90 persons of interest to urge them not to attend,’ a police statement on Saturday said.
‘Our investigations into this protest will continue, and we expect to issue further fines once the identity of individuals has been confirmed.’
‘Anyone thinking of attending a protest can expect the same swift and firm response from police as has occurred today and at previous protests that were in breach of Chief Health Officer restrictions.’
Officers on horseback and in riot gear marched through the city ahead of Saturday’s protests.
Demonstrators were taken away in handcuffs as police tried to avoid a repeat of last week’s protest that saw violent clashes leading to 17 arrests.
One man was arrested on Saturday after holding an anti-lockdown sign and calling out to police outside the Shrine of Remembrance.
The man told News Corp he wasn’t a conspiracy theorist but was anti-government and nodded when asked if it was ‘worth the fine’.
Melburnians will see some lockdown restrictions relaxed from midnight tonight, including more time to exercise and the night curfew reduced by one hour
Another mask-wearer was seen being spoken to by an officer while holding a sign that read: ‘I am just exercising…my human rights’.
One elderly woman had her details taken by police after she held up a sign with the message: ‘open our churches’.
One woman was dramatically restrained on the ground by multiple officers at the Observatory Gate because she wouldn’t give her ID, the Herald Sun reported.
She was shoved into the back of a police car while screaming to be let go.
‘They’ve arrested me because I won’t say my name. I’ve been in Melbourne all my life, I just want to go for a walk,’ the woman said.
A man wears a face shield with Mr Andrews’ head on the back while speaking to police at the march
Meanwhile a man with a picture of Premier Daniel Andrews stuck to the back of his face shield paraded through the protest while another had a mask saying ‘sack Daniel Andrews’.
The ‘Freedom Walk’ is believed to be the doing of sacked Clive Palmer political candidate and conspiracy theorist Tony Pecora, 43.
Mr Pecora was arrested by police after allegedly planning the event and charged with two counts of incitement.
The 43-year-old allegedly created the event on social media under the alias Arkwell Tripellego.
He believes the deadly coronavirus was ‘genetically engineered by world banks to kill off weak humans’.
He then quoted Midnight Oil, allegedly telling police if someone contracted coronavirus at one of his events ‘it would be better to die on your feet than live on your knees’.
One man was arrested after calling out to police and showing them an anti-government sign on Saturday morning