Melbourne protest: Tradies are arrested on third day of anti-vax demonstrations


Hundreds of freedom protesters chanted ‘lest we forget’ as they marched on Melbourne’s war memorial where they set up camp in the hope police wouldn’t fire on them out of respect for fallen Anzacs.

The protesters, who have been rallying for three days to demand an end to mandatory vaccinations for construction workers, swarmed Victoria’s Shrine of Remembrance which was built to honour the state’s men and women who served in the First World War.

Some were decked out in body armour or helmets in anticipation of a police attack while others sang chants urging police not to arrest them out of ‘respect for the Anzacs’.

Officers completely surrounded the protesters and prepared for a gas attack to flush them out. Protesters were shouting ‘join us’ at police who are moments away from gassing them outside the shrine.

Protesters set up camp at Melbourne’s war memorial in the hope police wouldn’t fire on them out of respect for fallen Anzacs

Some were decked out in body armour or helmets in anticipation of a police attack while others sang chants urging police not to arrest them out of 'respect for the Anzacs'

Some were decked out in body armour or helmets in anticipation of a police attack while others sang chants urging police not to arrest them out of ‘respect for the Anzacs’

Protesters waved flags as they marched on the war memorial which was set up to honour fallen soldiers in First World War

Protesters waved flags as they marched on the war memorial which was set up to honour fallen soldiers in First World War 

Protesters walk down Swanston Street in the CBD on September 22, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Protests started on Monday over new Covid-19 vaccine requirements for construction workers but turned into larger and at times violent demonstrations

Protesters walk down Swanston Street in the CBD on September 22, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. Protests started on Monday over new Covid-19 vaccine requirements for construction workers but turned into larger and at times violent demonstrations

Freedom protesters, who want an end to Covid-19 lockdown rules, lit flares as they swarmed the CBD on Wednesday

Freedom protesters, who want an end to Covid-19 lockdown rules, lit flares as they swarmed the CBD on Wednesday

Officers completely surrounded the protesters and prepared for a gas attack to flush them out

Officers completely surrounded the protesters and prepared for a gas attack to flush them out

Protesters sit on the lawn at the Shrine of Remembrance as they rally against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and a two week shutdown of the construction industry

Protesters sit on the lawn at the Shrine of Remembrance as they rally against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and a two week shutdown of the construction industry

Police pepper spray a protester during a rally against Covid-19 regulations in Melbourne on September 22

Police pepper spray a protester during a rally against Covid-19 regulations in Melbourne on September 22

Buses containing police were seen heading to the site in Kings Domain on St Kilda Road, accompanied by scores of police cars with lights and sirens flashing. 

Earlier, images and footage from the CBD show officers handcuffing dozens of demonstrators for breaching stay-at-home orders on Wednesday morning after police vowed they would be better prepared for violence since being caught off guard on Tuesday.

Another dramatic video showed panicked protesters running away from police who opened fire using pellet guns which project blunt-force pellets the size of marbles that feel like a ‘hard punch’ on impact. 

Daily Mail Australia witnessed one man being pepper sprayed infront of his teenage son near the CFMEU building which has been the target of violent protests since Monday.

Protesters were seen taunting police guarding the headquarters after entering Victoria Street at 12.30pm, lighting flares and swearing at heavily armoured police. 

A protester wearing a CFMEU hat removed his top as he marched through the CBD in protest against mandatory vaccinations

A protester wearing a CFMEU hat removed his top as he marched through the CBD in protest against mandatory vaccinations

A police officer detains a protester as construction workers and demonstrators march on the streets against the Covid-19 regulations in Melbourne

A police officer detains a protester as construction workers and demonstrators march on the streets against the Covid-19 regulations in Melbourne

A blonde woman is arrested in Melbourne's CBD on Wednesday morning as police cracked down on Covid rule-breakers

A blonde woman is arrested in Melbourne’s CBD on Wednesday morning as police cracked down on Covid rule-breakers

Police holding bean-bag guns and wearing protective gear including masks marched through Melbourne on Wednesday

There were may more officers than seen during Tuesday's riots

Police holding pellet guns and wearing protective gear including masks marched through Melbourne on Wednesday

Victoria Police make arrests during a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. One man appears to have been wrapped in a blanket by officers

Victoria Police make arrests during a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. One man appears to have been wrapped in a blanket by officers

Other arrests were less violent such as this one which did not require handcuffs

Police held one man's head to the ground during a violent arrest

Police held one man’s head to the ground during a violent arrest. Other arrests were less violent such as this one (left) that did not require handcuffs

Protesters gather in Melbourne's CBD ahead of another day of protesting. Police were seen speaking to and arresting several protesters on Wednesday

Protesters gather in Melbourne’s CBD ahead of another day of protesting. Police were seen speaking to and arresting several protesters on Wednesday

Heavily-armed riot police were backed up by hundreds of regular officers who marched the streets on Wednesday

Heavily-armed riot police were backed up by hundreds of regular officers who marched the streets on Wednesday

Members of the Victoria Police Public Order Response Team during a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and a two week shutdown of the construction industry

Members of the Victoria Police Public Order Response Team during a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations and a two week shutdown of the construction industry

Earlier on Wednesday Daniel Andrews blasted violent protesters who caused chaos in Melbourne over the past two days as police vowed to use new tactics to fight back with more carnage expected.

About 2,000 tradesmen and anti-vaccination and freedom campaigners rampaged through the city for ten hours on Tuesday to demonstrate against a two-week shutdown of the construction industry imposed due to rising Covid cases.

Police – who were caught short by the hastily organised protest – said 62 people were arrested on Tuesday after footage showed violent thugs attacking police by throwing cans or punching them in the street.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison broadcast live from Washington DC – where he met with President Joe Bide earlier – to denounce the protests and call for calm.

‘These are important jobs and they will return, we will get through this but protest activity and what we have seen there is highly distressing and that is not an appropriate response to trying to deal with an outbreak of this nature,’ he said. 

Protests started on Monday over new COVID-19 vaccine requirements for construction workers but turned into larger and at times violent demonstration. Pictured: An arrest on Wednesday

Protests started on Monday over new COVID-19 vaccine requirements for construction workers but turned into larger and at times violent demonstration. Pictured: An arrest on Wednesday

A protesters was arrested after receiving a nasty cut on his head during a clash with police in Melbourne on Wednesday

A protesters was arrested after receiving a nasty cut on his head during a clash with police in Melbourne on Wednesday

Members of Victorian Police detain a women at the corner of Elizabeth St and Victoria St near the CFMEU Building on September 22

Members of Victorian Police detain a women at the corner of Elizabeth St and Victoria St near the CFMEU Building on September 22

Footage shows police officers handcuffing at least one male and two female demonstrators on Wednesday morning

Footage shows police officers handcuffing at least one male and two female demonstrators on Wednesday morning

Mr Andrews said the actions were an ‘insult’ to the majority of law-abiding tradies and said the protesters were not just builders but also far-right freedom and anti-vaxx protesters. 

‘Can I say at the outset that the ugly scenes that we saw yesterday are not only appalling, they’re unlawful. Victoria Police will take action against those who did the wrong thing yesterday,’ Mr Andrews said in his first public appearance since the protests.

‘I think there were some people there who you would say were from the building industry. 

‘There were others who were not from the building industry. They’re not there to protests, they’re there for a fight, pretend to be protesting. They’re from many different backgrounds. 

‘What offends me is not only is the conduct, but in my job, over many years, I have met hundreds and thousands of builders, hundreds and thousands of tradies who build this state, whether it be removing level crossings, building hospitals and schools, all the way through to building homes, they’re fine people, hardworking people, and what we saw yesterday is an insult, an insult, to the vast, vast majority of tradies or people in the building industry who are not about wrecking, they’re about building,’ he said. 

Members of Victorian Police detain a man at the corner of Elizabeth St and Victoria St near the CFMEU Building on Wednesday

Members of Victorian Police detain a man at the corner of Elizabeth St and Victoria St near the CFMEU Building on Wednesday

Police stand guard as a protester is arrested. Heavily armoured police were seen marching down Elizabeth Street with 10 mounted police heading the charge

Police stand guard as a protester is arrested. Heavily armoured police were seen marching down Elizabeth Street with 10 mounted police heading the charge

Daniel Andrews has blasted violent anti-vaccination protesters in Melbourne who took the city by storm on Tuesday

The protesters have been communicating using encrypted messaging app Telegram (above are their messages)

Police say they have no obvious leader, making discussions difficult

The protesters have been communicating using encrypted messaging app Telegram (above are their messages). Police say they have no obvious leader, making discussions difficult

Mr Andrews defended his construction ban saying there were more than 350 Covid cases linked to the industry, more than in Victoria’s aged care sector. 

He also said mandatory vaccination orders for the industry would not be removed. 

Ahead of more expected protests on Wednesday, Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Shane Patton said officers would employ ‘different’ tactics and have more boots on the ground – but refused to reveal operational details.

‘Victoria Police have planned, we have significant tactics in place, we will be agile in our response, we will be very swift in our response an conduct, as we’ve seen yesterday, and the previous day, will not be tolerated,’ he said. 

Police sources have told Daily Mail Australia that officers are on high alert for protesters carrying weapons, with fears nail guns could be used against police.

It is understood the Australian Defence Force has also been alerted should police need back-up. 

Thousands of angry anti-vaxx protesters have vowed to march on Melbourne’s streets ‘every day’ this week ‘until demands are met’ as part of a violent crusade sparked by mandatory coronavirus vaccinations on job sites. 

Their demands include the immediate end of lockdown, the mass distribution of unproven drug invermectin to treat Covid and the removal of a law requiring construction workers to be vaccinated by Friday.

The protesters have been communicating using encrypted messaging app Telegram. Police say they have no obvious leader, making discussions difficult. 

Victoria's police chief has warned next time 'things will be different' with riot cops ready to take on the mob 'head on' (pictured, riot police pictured at the Melbourne protest on Tuesday)

Victoria’s police chief has warned next time ‘things will be different’ with riot cops ready to take on the mob ‘head on’ (pictured, riot police pictured at the Melbourne protest on Tuesday)

About 2,000 angry protesters took to the streets (pictured on Tuesday) to oppose mandatory Covid vaccinations on work sites - with unions insisting many weren't tradies but 'far-right opportunists'

About 2,000 angry protesters took to the streets (pictured on Tuesday) to oppose mandatory Covid vaccinations on work sites – with unions insisting many weren’t tradies but ‘far-right opportunists’

Thousands of angry tradies have vowed to march on Melbourne's streets 'every day' as part of their violent crusade against Covid vaccinations (pictured, a post promoting more days of unrest)

Thousands of angry tradies have vowed to march on Melbourne’s streets ‘every day’ as part of their violent crusade against Covid vaccinations (pictured, a post promoting more days of unrest)

MELBOURNE ANTI-VAXXER PROTESTERS’ LIST OF DEMANDS

1. Emergency state powers to be removed immediately

2. Lockdowns to end immediately

3. Mask mandate to end immediately

4. Vaccine mandates to end immediately 

5. Vaccine passport to be removed 

6. Immediate resignation of Premier Daniel Andrews

7. Immediate resignation of Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton

8. Immediate resignation of Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton

9. Royal commission into government’s response to pandemic

10. Charges laid against officers for ‘assaulting peaceful protesters’ 

11. All construction sites to resume immediately.

12. Mass distribution of invermectin, vitamins C, D, and zinc 

Riot cops are expected to be armed with rubber bullets, pepper balls and stinger grenades ready to take on the mob ‘head on’. 

Mr Andrews’ condemnation of the protesters came after he copped criticism for  ‘hiding’ from the cameras on Tuesday, only issuing a meekly-worded statement issued later on Tuesday evening.

Tensions have been brewing for months within the construction industry with a significant contingent of workers vehemently opposed to the jab requirement.

That resentment exploded this week with hi-vis-wearing anti-vaxx demonstrators hurling projectiles at the CFMEU headquarters on Monday, before taking over the entire city on Tuesday.

A rudderless mob of up to 2,000 stormed across the CBD for more than seven hours clashing with police, lighting flares, hurling rocks and in one case even assaulting a Channel 7 news reporter by throwing urine on him.

The out-of-control group even scaled the West Gate Bridge shutting down traffic and jumping on cars as terrified bystanders including children watched on in fear from inside their surrounded vehicles.

‘This was a very large and very, very angry group. Crowds like this, they’re for cowards,’ Chief Commissioner of Police Shane Patton said.

‘Cowards who seek to hide their identity… to do other things that if they were by themselves they wouldn’t have the courage to do.

‘I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a citizen in your car …. how scary that would have been.’

An online poster created by rally organisers declares the ‘Victorian Workers Rally for Freedom’ will continue ‘every day’ from 10am outside the head office of the CFMEU until their ‘no vaccine mandate’ demand is met.

But Commissioner Patton has promised that police will be ready to unleash a range of new counter measures on Wednesday, setting the scene for a fiery showdown.

‘I’m not going to disclose what our tactics will be… but they will be different,’ he said.

‘This is utter criminal conduct they’ve been involved in. You cannot come in and break the law. We will hold you to account.’  

The out-of-control group even scaled the West Gate Bridge (pictured on Tuesday) shutting down traffic and jumping on cars as terrified bystanders including children watched on in fear from inside their surrounded vehicles

The out-of-control group even scaled the West Gate Bridge (pictured on Tuesday) shutting down traffic and jumping on cars as terrified bystanders including children watched on in fear from inside their surrounded vehicles

A police officer receives treatment during a protest by construction workers and demonstrators against Covid-19 regulations in Melbourne (pictured on Tuesday)

A police officer receives treatment during a protest by construction workers and demonstrators against Covid-19 regulations in Melbourne (pictured on Tuesday)

A demonstrator is sent flying backwards off his bike as scenes turned ugly at the anti-vaxx protest (pictured on Tuesday)

A demonstrator is sent flying backwards off his bike as scenes turned ugly at the anti-vaxx protest (pictured on Tuesday)

Riot cops armed with rubber bullets, pepper balls and stinger grenades are pictured at the protest - with 'new tactics' to control the crowds set to be brought in on Wednesday

Riot cops armed with rubber bullets, pepper balls and stinger grenades are pictured at the protest – with ‘new tactics’ to control the crowds set to be brought in on Wednesday

Although more than 500 officers were deployed on Tuesday with the assistance of police air wing helicopters, the police chief said it was ‘really challenging for us’ because of the ‘spontaneity and tactics they employed throughout the day’.

Three officers were injured in the chaos along with veteran journalist Paul Dowsley who had a can thrown at the back of his head, was doused with urine and grabbed around the throat. 

There were just 62 protesters arrested, but police have vowed to scour CCTV and social media footage in order to bring more arrests in the coming days and weeks. 

‘They seem to be intent on random violence,’ Commissioner Patton said.

‘It’s clear this was not a protest, this was at times an affray.

‘When you’ve got a couple of thousands of people traipsing around town … throwing bottles, throwing lit flares… it defies logic for anyone to respond to that … and control the (crowd).’

Premier Andrews backed up the state’s top cop in a brief statement posted to Twitter at 8:41pm, saying there is ‘no excuse for the terrible behaviour we have seen in our city over the last two days’.

But he failed to reference the damage or injuries suffered by police officers, instead imploring protesters to ‘think of their fellow Victorians’. 

‘We know vaccinations are our only ticket out of this pandemic. There is no other way,’ he said.

‘For those who think violence is the answer, I ask that you think of your fellow Victorians – doing the right thing over many months, following the advice of our health experts.’

The embattled state leader pleaded with protesters to ‘spare a thought for our healthcare workers who are working such long hours looking after patients, many who are struggling to breathe.’

‘The more of us who get vaccinated, the fewer of us who will end up in hospital,’ he said. ‘It’s as simple as that.’

A large contingent of police line up on the West Gate Bridge (pictured on Tuesday afternoon) as the angry mob approaches

A large contingent of police line up on the West Gate Bridge (pictured on Tuesday afternoon) as the angry mob approaches

A rudderless mob of up to 2000 stormed across the CBD for more than seven hours clashing with police (pictured, protesters on Tuesday)

A rudderless mob of up to 2000 stormed across the CBD for more than seven hours clashing with police (pictured, protesters on Tuesday)

Demonstrators also lit flares, hurled rocks and in one case even assaulting a Channel 7 news reporter by throwing urine on him (pictured, protesters on Tuesday)

Demonstrators also lit flares, hurled rocks and in one case even assaulting a Channel 7 news reporter by throwing urine on him (pictured, protesters on Tuesday)

For many the softly-worded statement did not go far enough to condemn the mob, which the CFMEU claimed was fuelled by ‘neo-Nazis’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ – not its own members.  

Construction industry workers in Victoria have been furious over Covid compliance measures enforced on their industry.

Of the state’s 6,000 active Covid cases, 403 are directly linked to 186 construction sites – with health officials fearing the industry is not taking the deadly virus seriously.

Police with crowd control shields force back demonstrators during the clashes as the situation became increasingly violent on Tuesday (pictured)

Police with crowd control shields force back demonstrators during the clashes as the situation became increasingly violent on Tuesday (pictured)

A demonstrator in wrestled to the ground by officers (pictured in Melbourne on Tuesday), but just 62 arrests were made out of 2,000 who attended

A demonstrator in wrestled to the ground by officers (pictured in Melbourne on Tuesday), but just 62 arrests were made out of 2,000 who attended

MELBOURNE ANTI-VAXXER PROTESTERS’ LIST OF DEMANDS

1. Emergency state powers to be removed immediately

2. Lockdowns to end immediately

3. Mask mandate to end immediately

4. Vaccine mandates to end immediately 

5. Vaccine passport to be removed 

6. Immediate resignation of Premier Daniel Andrews

7. Immediate resignation of Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton

8.  Immediate resignation of Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton

9. Royal commission into government’s response to pandemic

10. Charges laid against officers for ‘assaulting peaceful protesters’ 

11. All construction sites to resume immediately.

12. Mass distribution of invermectin, vitamins C, D, and zinc 

Last week, in an attempt to stop the virus spreading on work sites, lunch rooms were shut down prompting scores of Melbourne tradies to block off busy roads with barbecues and outdoor furniture.

The impromptu protest was not well received by the broader public as the building industry has been largely able to continue operating during Victoria’s lockdowns while other sectors have been forced to close.

After about 1,000 riled-up workers stormed the CFMEU head office in Melbourne on Monday, breaking stay-at-home orders, Mr Andrews declared all job sites would be shut down for two weeks.

Furious tradies in the aftermath then organised Tuesday’s protest on encrypted apps such as Telegram – popular with right-wing extremists and conspiracy groups.

The platform played a key role in the US Capitol insurrection back in January where tens of thousands of Trump supporters entered Congress bringing Washington to a standstill.

At Tuesday’s demonstrations several were bizarrely seen waving Trump flags as they marched with the violent horde.

Union leaders have dubiously claimed the mob are mostly made up of 'fake tradies' and have little to do with the construction sector (pictured, protesters on Tuesday)

Union leaders have dubiously claimed the mob are mostly made up of ‘fake tradies’ and have little to do with the construction sector (pictured, protesters on Tuesday)

Construction industry workers in Victoria have been furious over Covid compliance measures enforced on their industry (pictured, crowds storming West Gate Bridge on Tuesday)

Construction industry workers in Victoria have been furious over Covid compliance measures enforced on their industry (pictured, crowds storming West Gate Bridge on Tuesday)

Union leaders have dubiously claimed the mob are mostly made up of ‘fake tradies’ and have little to do with the construction sector.

Federal member for Maribyrnong and former Australian Workers’ Union boss Bill Shorten told the Today show the rowdy mob is just a ‘Nazi rent-a-crowd’ who got themselves a $2 hi-viz hoody from the ‘Reject Shop’.

CFMEU boss John Setka labelled the majority of protesters ‘man-baby Nazis’ and ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the unions have been ‘infiltrated’.

But senior figures within the CFMEU say although far-right agitators and anti-vaxxers have exploited the situation, about ’80 to 90 per cent’ of the demonstrators were construction workers, The Age reported.

The sources also added that the once militant left wing union has seen a cultural shift take place among some of its members, with a growing number identifying with fringe right-wing ideologies.

Victoria’s construction industry shut down – explained

The shutdown was announced late on Monday following violent protests outside the CFMEU’s head office in Melbourne’s CBD over a vaccine mandate for the industry.

It applies to work sites across Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast.

Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said the shutdown was required to cut down movement, reduce COVID-19 transmission and give the industry time to adapt to the new requirements.

‘We put the industry on notice just a week ago, we have seen appalling behaviour on-site and on our streets, and now we’re acting decisively and without hesitation,’ he said in a statement.

An amnesty was in place on Monday so that a limited number of workers can attend construction sites to shut them down safely.

The government said all sites will need to demonstrate compliance with the chief health officer’s directions prior to reopening, including the requirement for workers to show evidence of having had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before they return to work on October 5.

The Property Council of Australia said the shutdown would cost the economy $1.1 billion a week.

‘The majority of construction sites and construction workers are doing everything required of them to meet the highest standards of COVID safety and have done so since the pandemic started,’ executive director Danni Hunter said in a statement.

‘Closing the industry will prevent them going to work and getting paid and it will stall projects causing immensely costly delays, putting projects and Victorian jobs at risk.’

Opposition industry spokeswoman Bridget Vallence said the Andrews government must immediately reverse its ‘panicked decision’.

‘The Liberal Nationals condemn the violent protests, but the actions of a few should not be used as an excuse to shut down an entire industry, putting tens of thousands of people out of work,’ she said in a statement.

Union officials say Monday’s protesters were not all CFMEU members and blamed ‘neo-Nazi’s and right-wing extremists’ for hijacking the event.

The protest escalated when two union officials, including Victorian construction branch secretary John Sekta, came outside the Elizabeth Street office to speak to protesters just before midday.

Mr Setka was met with boos and insults from the crowd, while some protesters hurled bottles.

Violence escalated even further on Tuesday, with 2,000 protesters storming the West Gate Bridge, bringing traffic to a standstill and evening attacking cars

Organisers have vowed to host protests ‘every day’ until the mandatory vaccine mandate for tradies is dropped 

Construction sites have been a place of high spread in the latest outbreak, forcing health officials to close tearooms last week.

The state’s roadmap out of lockdown was released on Sunday, detailing small changes to restrictions when 80 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 have received a single vaccine dose.

Melbourne’s lockdown will remain in place until 70 per cent of Victorians are double-vaccinated, which is forecast for October 26.

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