By SJA Jafri (Bureau Chief Australia)
Ten people have been arrested and a police officer had been injured during an anti-lockdown demonstration in Melbourne. Dozens of demonstrators stormed Parliament House on Spring Street in the city’s CBD this afternoon, holding signs and calling for coronavirus lockdowns to end.
A police officer was taken to hospital for what is believed to be a rib injury, Victoria Police said in a statement. Two rally organisers were among the ten arrests, most of them for breaking social distancing rules.
Police also used pepper spray while arresting one person. Three people will also be charged with assaulting a police officer, and another allegedly threw a bottle at officers.
Footage also appears to show one man punching an officer while he was leading a woman to a patrol car. The protesters chanted; “The police do not have authority”, “Our law is the ultimate law”, and “No lockdown”.
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the protest was, “incredibly disappointing.” “Those people know that this pandemic is not fake news,” she said.
“We’ve had 18 Victorians lose their lives as a result of COVID-19, “I know that there are many people who are feeling very sad today because they don’t have their mothers or their grandmothers with them whose lives were lost as a result of this virus.”
Police had earlier told protesters they were not allowed to go ahead with the rally because of the rules amid the pandemic. They warned of further fines and other enforcement measures to come once they identify people.
“While Victoria Police respects the public’s right to protest, the health and safety of every Victorian needs to be our number one priority at this time,” they said in a statement. “Police are continuing to investigate the events of today in order to identify other people who were in attendance. “Once individuals are identified, we will be issuing them with fines and will consider any other enforcement options.”