A meeting of over 100 people gathered to protest against COVID-19 regulations on the steps the Victoria State Parliament yesterday led to confrontations with police that resulted in the arrest of 10 people and injuries to three police officers, one of whom had to hospitalised.
The gathering of the people was deemed by police to be a contravention of regulations against large gatherings put in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Victoria Police said in a statement that: “At the protest on Spring Street on Sunday (10 May), police arrested 10 people, including two organisers of the event. OC spray was deployed during an arrest of one individual.
“The majority of those arrested were for failing to comply with the Chief Health Officer’s directions. Three of the offenders will also be charged with assaulting a police officer, and another offender will be charged with discharging a missile after allegedly throwing a bottle at police,” the police statement said.
One of the organisers of the gathering, Fanos Panayides, who was reportedly held by police, said on his Facebook page that the event had been peaceful until “they grabbed one of the guys who was speaking and slammed his head on the ground.”
He went to say that the media present at the protest had misrepresented what had taken place and that he would not do interviews with the media. He added that he had received many messages of support on social media. Mr Panayides had not responded to Neos Kosmos messages at the time of writing.
The police said in its statement that: “When attending the protest, the priority for police was to quickly arrest those individuals who were acting unlawfully and inciting others to breach the Chief Health Officer’s directions.
“Once police made arrests, the crowd started to disperse.
“Police are continuing to investigate the events of Sunday’s protest in order to identify other people who were in attendance. Once individuals are identified, we will be issuing them with fines and will consider any other enforcement options,” read the statement.
According to the ABC News website, one of those arrested was later released and he said that he would be receiving a $1,652 fine for contravening regulations on physical distancing.
It reported that some protesters shouted messages against lockdown, some carried signs that said “fight for your freedom and rights.” Others spoke against vaccinations and 5G mobile networks.
7 News reported that Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos was asked to “address 300 protesters as part of the daily COVID-19 updates that she has been giving.
The news organisation reported the minister as saying that: “those individuals who are protesting today are at breach of the stay at home directive. … I think it’s incredibly disappointing that we’ve got people protesting against vaccines, for example.
“I know that the whole of Australia, the whole world, is waiting with great anticipation (for) a potential vaccine being developed for coronavirus,” the minister was reported as saying.