Massive police presence quashes Sydney anti-lockdown protest

NSW Police officers detain a protester on Broadway, near Victoria Park, Sydney on Saturday, 21 August, 2021. Photo: In Good Faith/Twitter.

By PETER HACKNEY

A contingent of over 1,400 police officers has quelled a planned anti-lockdown protest in Central Sydney, with police issuing fines and charging people in Broadway’s Victoria Park.

This morning’s massive police operation – which is ongoing at time of writing (1.30pm) – appears to have prevented a large number of people from congregating in the park, with would-be attendees dispersed into surrounding streets.

A PolAir helicopter has been observed hovering above Victoria Park while, on the ground, police made their presence felt on foot and horseback.

Numerous police in riot gear are also in attendance.

The Sentinel understands there is also a small gathering of protesters in Elizabeth Street, near Hyde Park.

At this stage, it appears the protesters number in the low hundreds, as opposed to the thousands who flooded the CBD for the anti-lockdown protest on 24 July.

Earlier today, police enacted extreme measures to prevent protesters gathering in the CBD, with taxis and ride shares banned from taking people into the area, and some public transport services scuppered. The measures are expected to continue until at least 3pm, a NSW Police spokesperson said.

Record Covid cases

The events come as NSW records its highest daily number of locally transmitted cases, with a whopping 825 people confirmed infected with Covid-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Announcing the news at today’s Covid-19 media briefing, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian described the situation as “catastrophic”.

“This is nothing Australia has seen before,” she said. “Even in very strict and harsh lockdowns, the virus is spreading.

“What we need to do is protect ourselves and loved ones by staying at home and getting vaccinated.”

A further three people have died, the premier said.

Melbourne, Brisbane protests ongoing

Sydney’s thwarted anti-lockdown protest is in contrast to events currently occurring in Melbourne, where a “freedom rally” began at 12pm. The rally, attended by an estimated several thousand people, has broken police lines and seen pepper spray used against protesters.

Several major Melbourne thoroughfares have been filled with protesters, who lit flares and chanted slogans such as “sack Andrews” and “vaccines kill”, according to News Corp Australia publications.

Protests are also occurring in several other Australian cities, including Brisbane, where 2,000 people have gathered in the City Botanic Gardens, ahead of a planned march through the CBD.

The Courier-Mail reports that some attendees have been abusing members of the media, telling them “you’re the f***ing virus”, while others are wielding signs that read “Jesus is my vaccine”.

More to come …

Peter Hackney is the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Sentinel.

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