Anti-lockdown protesters clash with Sydney police

Anti-lockdown protesters clash with Sydney police

Several people were arrested at an anti-lockdown rally in Sydney which also saw violent clashes with police. (AFP photo)
Several people were arrested at an anti-lockdown rally in Sydney which also saw violent clashes with police. (AFP photo)

SYDNEY: Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Australia's two largest cities on Saturday, with several arrested in Sydney after violent clashes with police.

A group charged mounted officers while throwing pot plants and bottles, as opponents of Sydney's month-long stay-at-home orders took to the streets.

In Melbourne, local media said thousands of protesters had thronged the streets after gathering outside the state parliament in the early afternoon.

Maskless demonstrators flouted rules on non-essential travel and public gatherings a day after authorities suggested restrictions could remain in place until October.

Police in Sydney said they had launched a "high-visibility policing operation" in response to the protest.

"So far during the operation, a number of people have been arrested," the force said.

Organisers had dubbed the protest a "freedom" rally and publicised it on social media pages frequently used to spread vaccine disinformation and conspiracy theories.

Attendees carried signs and banners reading "Wake up Australia" and "Drain the Swamp", echoing messages seen in similar demonstrations overseas.

Helicopters buzzed the streets above Sydney, a city of five million people that is struggling to contain an outbreak of the Delta variant.

Similar gatherings were planned in other urban centres.

The state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, reported 163 new cases Saturday for a total of nearly 2,000 infections in the current outbreak.

After escaping much of the early pandemic unscathed, around half of Australia's 25 million people are now in lockdown across several cities.

There is growing anger at the restrictions — which are often only partially observed — and the conservative government's failure to provide adequate vaccine supplies.

Just 11 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Stephen Jones, a member of the national parliament from Sydney, condemned the protesters as "selfish, reckless idiots".

"Nobody wants to be in lockdown. This is exactly how you keep it going."

Police said they supported "free speech and peaceful assembly, however, today's protest is in breach of the current Covid-19 Public Health Orders".

Do you like the content of this article?

Majority not keen to see Prayut take over PPRP leadership: Nida Poll

A majority of people do not want to see Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha take over Gen Prawit Wongsuwon as leader of the Palang Pratharath Party (PPRP) or set up his own party for the next general election, according to the result of an opinion survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, or Nida Poll.


SpaceX all-civilian orbital crew completes historic mission

WASHINGTON: Four SpaceX tourists returned to Earth safely on Saturday after spending three days in space, successfully concluding the first orbital mission in history with no professional astronauts on board.


13,576 new Covid cases, 117 more deaths

Thailand logged 13,576 new Covid-19 cases and 117 more fatalities during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Sunday morning.