Startling photos from Melbourne protest
Almost 200 people were fined and 74 were arrested in Melbourne today during dramatic rallies as anti-lockdown protesters ramp up their campaign.
Victoria Police say 176 fines were issued for breaches of the Chief Health Officer directions.
It said the biggest protest occurred at the Queen Victoria Market where some 200-250 people gathered.
Dramatic footage has emerged of today's rallies against the Victorian government's coronavirus restrictions, following the arrests of 14 people on Saturday.
Police say a 44-year-old Burwood East man, believed to be a primary agitator for the protests, remains in police custody and is expected to be charged with incitement. A search warrant is expected to be issued for his home.
Another person was arrested for assaulting police.
Riot police were seen holding shields, attempting to separate the "hostile crowd" chanting "freedom".
Several people were arrested and issued with fines, with police escorting more protesters away as they contained the demonstration.
Peel St where the protesters marched was completely blocked off.
In its statement, police said they were disappointed that many protesters were aggressive and threatened violence towards officers.
However, there were no injuries to police identified so far.
Police say they expect to issue further fines once they confirm the identity of other individuals.
"Anyone thinking of attending a protest can expect the same swift and firm response from police as has consistently occurred in relation to such behaviour," the police statement said.
"We again urge people not to leave home to protest."
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Violent scenes have erupted at the anti-lockdown protest at Queen Victoria market as screaming and chanting protests scream “freedom”. Riot police are attempting to separate the the crowd off Peel Street @theage pic.twitter.com/JMCl51JYb5— erin pearson (@epearson_3) September 13, 2020
In photos posted on Twitter, protesters could be seen lining up outside the Queen Victoria Market, where there was a heavy police presence and "high tensions". Protesters were reportedly sucking on lollipops in defiance of wearing masks.
The police presence appeared to far outnumber the protesters.
A Herald Sun reporter said tensions were escalating as helicopters circled the precinct.
One woman also said there was a "big police presence" at the Shrine of Remembrance in Kings Domain.
"Just saw police officers surround a couple of protesters with 'corrupt media' and anti-lockdown signs on St Kilda Rd," she said.
The organisers reportedly used encrypted phone apps to communicate, in a desperate attempt to avoid police.
The Herald Sun reports they encouraged attendees to "be agile, be like water".
"Be ready to swarm the location to assemble," protest organiser David said.
"Once we have assembled, we are all safe.
"Conducting these protests is dependent on having sufficiently large numbers to outnumber any police presence at a location of assembly.
"Best way to achieve this is to ensure you have talked to everyone you know that might be interested in attending, and attempt to just bring at least one other person with you.
"If we can double the number of the protests week on week, we will send a clear message that Victoria will not forgive and not forget this suspension of our freedoms."
The protesters dubbed the move "Freedom Day 2.0", following their first Freedom Day event on September 5.
It comes as police issued a warning to anti-lockdown protesters after scheduled rallies saw 14 people arrested yesterday.
Authorities had braced for hundreds of people to attend a planned 'Freedom Walk' through the Melbourne CBD Saturday, though the turn out wasn't as extreme as expected.
The group's admin admitted yesterday's rally wasn't as intense as they wanted and predicted today's would see a higher turn out of people.
"Plenty of people showed up, but the police planning prevented people from grouping up, so they had to scatter," they said.
"Tomorrow the police will be on the back foot, and we'll be able to rise."
Originally published as Startling photos from Melbourne protest