Australian police arrested nearly a hundred people in Melbourne who wanted to demonstrate against the corona measures. In the past three days, demonstrations often led to a violent confrontation with the police. Thats why the police had been pulled out in large numbers to prevent a new demonstration.
92 people nevertheless showed up and got busted. Furthermore, there were no significant incidents.
The demonstrations began a few days ago after the local government introduced a vaccination obligation for construction workers. According to the local government, this duty is necessary because many rural construction workers come to work in the city and there are fears that they are taking the virus back home.
According to the local government, half of the construction sites do not comply with the corona measures. Today, 766 new infections and four deaths were recorded in the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, a spike in the current outbreak. About two out of three infections have a link to construction.
Far right and antivaxxers join
The decision led to great anger and construction workers blocked a highway and a bridge. Construction was then shut down for the next two weeks, which only sparked the protests. But its not just construction workers who hit the streets. Far-right and anti-vaccination groups have joined the protest and are very violent.
Yesterday protesters confronted the police. More than 200 people were arrested in the process. About a thousand protesters had gathered at a war memorial in the city where they refused to leave for hours. The police eventually broke up the demonstration. There was a lot of violence, by both sides. Protesters threw with torches, golf balls and batteries. Police used pepper spray, made heavy-handed arrests and shot rubber bullets.
An Australian journalist who reported was pelted by protesters and doused in urine. At a vaccination center, healthcare workers were scolded and spat. State Prime Minister Dan Andrews has fiercely condemned the violence. “These people have not come to demonstrate, they come to fight,” he said about the riots.
Slap the tiles
The police have crushed down the demonstrations. For example, a social media video shows how an agent approaches a man who is seemingly quiet talking from behind and hitting hard to the ground. His head claps on the tiles and the man is unconscious for a while. The video has caused great outrage and is being investigated by the authorities.
It is unknown how many protesters were injured. At the big demonstration yesterday, three officers were wounded by violence from protesters.
The explosion of anger doesnt come out of the blue. Melbourne is about to get the dubious honor of being the city that has been in lockdown the longest worldwide. If the current lockdown as announced comes to an end at the end of October, Melbourne has spent 267 days in lockdown since the start of the corona pandemic.
“No alternative to vaccination”
The frustration in the state of Victoria has been stacking up for months. According to David Southwick, the deputy opposition leader, many people are desperate. “We have to move forward, it can no longer be done,” he says in an interview with Sky News. “But there will be no end to the lockdowns. People want their lives back.”
The state government and the construction workers unions point out that far-right groups hijacked the demonstrations for their own purposes. On social media, the violence is frowned upon by protesters and police, but there is also an understanding of the anger. Yet, according to State Prime Minister Andrews, there is only one solution: vaccination. “Violence doesnt work, only vaccination can help us with this. Theres no alternative.”
At the moment, more than half of the Australian population is in lockdown. The measures apply to Sydney, Melbourne and the capital Canberra, among others. The federal government has promised more freedoms once 70 to 80 percent of all adults are fully vaccinated. Now 49 percent of the Australian population has had two pricks.