The protest scenes happening across Melbourne’s city are still happening today, for the third day in a row, despite the magnitude-6 earthquake that shook the state this morning. We really are in the end of times, huh?
In case you missed it, construction workers took to the streets of Melbourne from Monday to protest the Victorian government’s announcement of a mandatory vaccines for tradies, and a two-week shutdown of the construction industry.
Tradies were chanting for freedom outside the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)’s Victoria office in Melbourne, before things got violent and protesters starting throwing bottles at CFMEU staff and clashing with police.
235 people arrested, 10 police injured, six taken to hospital. Protesting your right to “freedom” is just not on when you risk infecting vulnerable groups and potentially put the hospital system under more pressure than what it already is #melbourneprotest pic.twitter.com/eobXZqcCHl
— Chelsea Hetherington (@chelsea_hetho) September 18, 2021
It’s important to note here, that while actual tradies are protesting, there are claims the rallies have been co-opted by anti-vaxxers and right-wing extremists, too. Former Labor leader Bill Shorten told The Today Show that there was “also a network of hard-right man-baby Nazis, people who just want to cause trouble.”
Organisers of the Melbourne protests promised to march every day until construction workers are back on the job, and since Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has refused to stand down on mandatory vaccines for construction workers, it looks like they’re keeping that promise. Sigh.
— Teegan Dolling (@tdolling) September 22, 2021
The Age reported that several arrests were made before the protests even kicked off, and since then large groups of protesters have made their way across the city.
As of this arvo, protesters have gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial off St Kilda road.
The chair of the Shrine of Remembrance and RSL Victoria have described the use of the memorial by protesters today as disrespectful. Police and protesters remain at a stand-off at the site. Our live blog here: https://t.co/b3iLEGbrlP pic.twitter.com/6FiITaMAKy
— Simone Fox Koob (@SimoneFoxKoob) September 22, 2021
The Shrine of Remembrance is not the usual hangout for union members protesting something.
It is, however, precisely the place that nationalistic, right-wing “freedom fighters” who met on telegram would head to.
— Belinda Barnet (@manjusrii) September 22, 2021
Some of the organisers of the Melbourne protests have called for demonstrators to leave cops alone and remain peaceful, and so far it seems the ugly violence of the previous days has been mostly avoided.
“We’re here for peace. We’re here to be heard,” a speaker said to protesters, per The Age.
“We already look like fucking neo-Nazis on the news, do you want that?”
— erin pearson (@epearson_3) September 22, 2021
The Age reported that police began to move in later in the afternoon and arrest protesters at the fringe of the crowd, with footage showing a woman sobbing as she is carried away by police.
A female protester sobs as she is carried away from the protest by four officers. She spent several minutes on the ground with her arms held by police before they decided to remove her. Unclear what she did wrong @theage pic.twitter.com/xFjz6s9zhX
— Michael Fowler (@michaelfowler08) September 22, 2021
— Suzan Delibasic (@suzandelibasic) September 22, 2021
Herald Sun journalist Susan Delibasic has posted footage of both riot and mounted police closing in on the crowds. It looks like tensions are high, but fortunately, nothing like the last two days of chaos.
It looks like police are trying to disperse the crowds without inciting a riot. Let’s see if they can sort this out peacefully.