Thousands of protesters protesting anti-Covid restrictions in Melbourne, Australia clashed with police on Saturday 21 August in what law enforcement has called “the most violent protest in 20 years”. The images released by the ABC show a group of demonstrators trying to force a police cordon near the Parliament and some of them clashing violently with the agents, who respond with pepper spray.
People took to the streets across the country after the government announced the extension of the lockdown to limit the contagion of the Delta variant, which recorded the highest number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic this weekend. According to the head of law enforcement Shane Patton, the police used tools never used before during the anti-lockdown demonstrations.
During the clashes, 9 officers ended up in hospital and about 250 protesters arrested, of which 19 will face a trial in court, two on charges of assault. 200 fines issued by the Victoria State Police, each amounting to 5,400 Australian dollars. “What we saw yesterday was probably one of the most violent protests we have seen in about 20 years,” Patton told reporters.
Australia, which has fully vaccinated 25 per cent of its population, still remains below those of much of the world and has over 43,000 infections and 978 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The contagion curve has been steadily increasing since June, with the explosion of the Delta variant. Sydney has been in lockdown for two months, while Melbourne and the capital Canberra entered lockdown this month.