The unmasked participants marched from Sydney’s Victoria Park to Town Hall in the central business district, carrying signs calling for “freedom” and “the truth.” (Police declared 3,500 participants, but many participants boasted there were at least 15,000 in the largest protest rally ever in Sydney.)
There was a heavy police presence in Sydney, including mounted police and riot officers in response to what authorities said was unauthorized protest activity. Police confirmed a number of arrests had been made after objects were thrown at officers. (NSW Police admitted they used only 400 police this time and declared that if protests repeat again next Saturday as the organizers has promised there would be 4,000 police to quell them.)
New South Wales Police said it recognized and supported the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, but the protest was a breach of public health orders. “The priority for NSW Police is always the safety of the wider community,” a police statement said.
The protest comes as COVID-19 case numbers in the state reached another record with 163 new infections in the last 24 hours. Greater Sydney has been locked down for the past four weeks, with residents only able to leave home with a reasonable excuse.
“We live in a democracy and normally I am certainly one who supports people’s rights to protest but at the present time we’ve got cases going through the roof and we have people thinking that’s OK to get out there and possibly be close to each other at a demonstration,” said state Health Minister Brad Hazzard.
In Melbourne, thousands of protesters without masks turned out downtown chanting “freedom.” Some of them lit flares as they gathered outside Victoria state’s Parliament House. They held banners, including one that read: “This is not about a virus it’s about total government control of the people.” A car protest rally is also planned in Adelaide, which is also under lockdown, with police warning they will make arrests over unlawful activity.
By Friday, only 15.4% of the nation’s population aged 16 and above have received both jabs for COVID-19. “We’ve turned the corner, we’ve got it sorted. We’re hitting the marks that we need to make, a million doses a week are now being delivered,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. “We are well on our way to where we want to be by the end of the year and potentially sooner than that.”
The federal government said it will send thousands of extra Pfizer doses to Sydney while adults in Australia’s largest city are also being urged to “strongly consider” AstraZeneca in view of the scarcity of Pfizer supplies.
NSW government quickly responded the unauthorized protest with a threat of an indefinite lockdown strictly controlled by Australian Army with the approval of Morrison’s Federal Government.
NSW Premier Gladys Barejiklian has claimed she was disgusted by the unlawful protest from the Sudneysiders for they dared to show their violent disgust of her government’s dictatorial use of so-called Public Health Orders to lock down Sydney harshly and indefinitely.