Despite Melbourne being in stage four lockdown amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, police have arrested 74 people on Sunday, September 13, as more than 250 people attended an anti-lockdown protest at the Queen Victoria Market.
According to The Guardian, protestors were chanting "Freedom" and "Power to the people" as riot officers attempted to break up the gathering.
Footage from the protest was later posted online, with officers on horseback riding through groups of protesters inside the market, and heavily armed riot squads lined up beside rows of fresh fruit and vegetables.
A police spokesman said they were “disappointed that many protestors were aggressive and threatened violence towards officers."
“Our investigations into this protest will continue, and we expect to issue further fines once the identity of individuals has been confirmed,” they said.
“While it remains unlawful for Victorians to leave home to protest, you can expect that Victoria Police will hold people to account. 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.”
Police confirmed 74 people were arrested during the illegal protest, including an alleged "agitator" who remains in custody.
While delivering his coronavirus update, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said the protesters were "selfish, unlawful and wrong".
"It's not smart, it's not right...it's not the time for protest," he said. "No one has the right to make choices like that, that potentially puts at risk everything we are working towards."