Monday , December 5 2022

Melbourne braces for Sunday’s anti-lockdown protests


Bureau Report

MELBOURNE: Police have issued a stern warning to Melbourne anti-lockdown protesters after a fearsome response to an underwhelming rally today.

Authorities were bracing themselves for hundreds of people to attend a planned ‘Freedom Walk’ through the Melbourne CBD, as the state faces another two weeks under stage four lockdown restrictions.

Would-be protesters have been warned the same will happen tomorrow if planned rallies go ahead.

Organisers won’t reveal the locations for the protests until 20 minutes before time.

Today, hordes of officers surged into Fitzroy Gardens at 11am to prepare for the rally.

Protesters arrived with banners, singing and chanting their message despite warnings from police earlier in the week to stay at home – however, police said only about 100 people attended the protests in “various locations”.

Police arrested 14 people and issued at least 51 infringement notices for breaching health guidelines.

“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 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.”

The man accused of planning the ‘Freedom Walk’ in Melbourne is now free on bail.

Tony Pecora pledged to attend an anti-lockdown protest after being charged with two counts of incitement.

Pecora has claimed COVID-19 is “genetically engineered by world banks to kill off weak humans” and allegedly told police if protesters contracted the virus at his event, “it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees”.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius has slammed anti-lockdown protesters calling them “selfish”.

The senior police chief revealed his growing frustration as he fronted up to the media for the third week running to warn against “yet another” protest set.

“I feel a bit like a dog returning to eat his own vomit,” he said.

A total of 17 people were arrested in last weekend’s anti-lockdown protests and 160 infringement notices were issued.

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