A second day of anti-lockdown protests in Victoria has seen hundreds of demonstrators swarm Queen Victoria Market.
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.
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 both 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.
‘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 reached boiling point about 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.
‘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.
The masked driver refused to get out of her car after talking with an officer about a phone charger at Wallan, about 60km north of the city.
More to come.