More than a dozen lockdown protesters have been arrested by Victorian riot police in Melbourne’s CBD today for violating public health guidelines.
Police acted decisively, tackling numerous protesters and pinning them to the ground, after they gathered around the city to protest the stage four coronavirus restrictions, which have closed businesses and largely confined people to their homes.
One officer was injured in a scuffle as police made 17 arrests and issued over 160 infringement notices to people breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions.
Of the arrests, 14 were for breaching the Chief Health Officer directions, and one was for assaulting police. All those arrested are currently in custody assisting police with enquiries, Victoria Police said in a statement.
The protest began at the Shrine of Remembrance close to Melbourne’s CBD, however, once dispersed, moved to Albert Park.
Multiple convoys of police vehicles, vans and buses and the mounted police converged on groups demonstrating against the lockdowns.
A group of protesters were boxed in by police, and the riot squad, armed with body armour and shields swarmed protesters, tackling some to the ground.
One officer received lacerations to the head after being assaulted by a protester, a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.
“Despite all the warnings, it was disappointing to see individuals turn out to protest in the city today, putting the lives of Victorians at risk,” she said.
Police warned further infringement notices will be issued as police review footage from the march.
Earlier in the day police arrested and released protester Adam Hoehen at a pre-march meetup at Luna Park in St Kilda.
Hoehen had posted on social media encouraging protesters to walk past for “verbal directions about the change of plans”.
He was taken to the ground by police investigating “incitement” and for not wearing a mask, but was released and issued a penalty infringement notice.
When asked whether he realised there was a pandemic on at the moment, Hoehen agreed.
He also claimed he “didn’t need to” wear a mask as he had an exemption.
“I choose my right as a free citizen to sit in the sunshine,” he claimed to police.
Hoehen denied he was inciting a protest however appeared at the Shrine of Remembrance demonstration later that day.
Protesters were singing “I am, you are, we are Australian” and yelling towards police.
One woman at the Shrine of Remembrance named Fiona became visibly distressed as police removed her signs, claiming it was her human right to protest.
“This is not right, people are suffering. We are in lockdown and I am asking the world to help us,” she said.
“It is my human right to protest. Under the Human Rights Charter, this is my right,” she said as police removed her placards and directed her to move on.