Residents in the locked down public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne are making desperate pleas for help to the outside world by sticking hand-written messages in their windows.
The towers in the inner-Melbourne suburbs were thrown into utter chaos on Saturday, with Premier Dan Andrews abruptly ordering a hard lockdown on thousands of residents with police swarming to the area to enforce the orders. Those residents are currently trapped inside their own home, unable to leave for any reason, and may remain in stasis under rule of law for as long as two weeks, as part of the Victorian Government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Saturday night lockdown order came a full 15-odd hours before Premier Andrews announced further support initiatives for residents, including things like food and financial support, as well as access to health and other support networks.
That mass confusion coupled with the overtly classist nature of the lockdown orders has seen severe disquiet amongst tower residents rise over the past 36 hours.
Such is the level of unrest inside the towers that residents have taken to issuing what amounts to SOS pleas from inside; sticking hand-written notes on their windows in a desperate cry for help.
Photos posted on social media this afternoon show messages ranging from simple “help!” signs, through to ones asserting “treat us a humans, not caged animals” and “end this lockdown.” One goes so far as to call the Flemington tower “Flemington Penitentiary.”
— Tom Kelly (@tpwkelly) July 6, 2020
Others seen at the site of the towers go so far as to call the lockdowns “classism” and “martial law,” asserting people in the towers are “not criminals.” Another, quite heartbreakingly, simply asserts “I am locked up.”
Federal Greens MP and local member for Melbourne Adam Bandt also posted a photo of a note that was reportedly dropped to him by a tower resident yesterday morning.
In a social media post, Bandt claims a resident of the North Melbourne towers dropped him the note expressing confusion regarding the sheer volume of the police presence at the towers. Victoria Police has installed officers on every level of every building, and maintains a heavy – and armed – presence on the grounds surrounding the towers.
Things are tough at the North Melb public housing flats this morning, where residents got locked down last night with no notice and now can’t leave. This was dropped out a window by one resident. pic.twitter.com/t5o1p0tdHy
— Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) July 5, 2020
Premier Andrews on Saturday stated that the punitive “hard” lockdown would last for “at least” five days, however residents were issued official documents assert the lockdown period was to run for 14 days, leading to increased confusion.