NSW Police arrested over 150 people and issued almost 600 fines following heaps of coordinated anti-lockdown protests across the entire state.
NSW Police Force deployed more than 900 officers, including those from the Public Order and Riot Squad, and the Dog and Mounted Unit, to patrol areas they expected to be visited by anti-lockdown protesters as online discussions regarding organising a truck blockage gained traction.
The truck blockage didn’t end up happening, but the anti-lockdown protests that did happen were targeted towards local council chambers, and there were a whopping 79 demonstrations across the state, including in regional western and southern areas of NSW.
Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said three police officers were injured during clashes with protesters in Lismore, Murwillumbah and Raymond Terrace.
“We have made it very clear through the previous weeks that police aren’t opposed to free speech,” Lanyon said.
“We are opposed to activity that breaches the health order and puts the vast majority of the community in danger.
“Today’s actions only further serve to jeopardise the freedoms of those people who are doing the right thing.”
While 79 protests feels like a lot, Health Minister Brad Hazzard has said previously that the fact so many people are getting vaccinated in NSW shows that most people are supportive of the state’s efforts to curb cases.
“You will always have a certain group who unfortunately are spending more time on social media and listening to people with crack pot ideas than you will have reading the scientific journals and talking to doctors,” he said.
In total, 153 people were arrested, though many were released after officers were able to get their identity to issue fines.
Others were charged with a bunch of offences including various breaches of public health orders, assaulting police, resisting arrest, refusing to comply with police direction, and failing to move on.
A total of 573 fines were issued to protesters.