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Pics/Vids: Thousands of Australians chase off police in clash over COVID vaccine mandates

Police car lights (Wikimedia/Matty Ring)
September 21, 2021

Thousands of residents in Melbourne, Australia protested against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and lockdowns over the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday. Large crowds have been captured on video demonstrating, clashing with police and even chasing away police vehicles.

Melbourne, which is in the Australian state of Victoria, has strict lockdown measures in place that require people to stay home unless shopping for essential goods and services, caregiving, authorized work by permit, exercise or limited outdoor interactions in limited groups. Melbourne is Australia’s second-most-populous city.

One Twitter user tweeted video of crowds of people chasing away several police vehicles. “This is melbourne right now. Got voted top 10 safest city in the world on Sunday. Fast forward to Tuesday.”

Herald Sun reporter Suzan Delibasic tweeted, “Violent scenes just unfolded at today’s protest” with additional footage of protesters throwing objects at police cars.

CNN reported at least 235 people were arrested and 10 police officers were injured during protests on Saturday.

In many of the videos, many protests could be seen wearing orange and yellow protective vests commonly worn by construction workers. According to the Washington Post, the Melbourne protests come after the city imposed new COVID-19-related restrictions on construction workers in the city. Melbourne has also mandated vaccinations for construction workers.

On Sunday, journalist Gus Bruno tweeted, “Insane footage coming out of the [Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union] Victoria headquarters in Melbourne. Construction workers are protesting against the union, mandatory vaccination and @DanielAndrewsMP. #springst#covid19vic.”

On Monday, the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) issued a statement disavowing the protests and claiming the crowds of protesters were “heavily infiltrated by neo-Nazis and other right wing extremist groups” while actual construction workers were in the minority of protesters.

One Twitter user challenged the claim that protesters are made up of neo-Nazis, sharing a photo of several men among the protest crowd wearing the traditional turbans of the Sikh religion. The Twitter user shared that photo alongside one of Melbourne police in riot gear and tweeted, “If you were trying to identify the neo-nazi group gathered in Melbourne this morning, which group would you pick?”

Additional footage from the Melbourne protests on Tuesday showed thousands of protesters crowding onto bridges and highways around the city, jamming traffic.

“Construction workers block the main highway from #Melbourne in both directions of traffic in Australia to protest against compulsory vaccination and the shutdown of several construction sites in the city following their demonstration yesterday.#Melbourneprotest#CFMEU,” one Twitter user tweeted.

Delibasic tweeted another photo of hundreds of protesters in orange and yellow jackets crowding onto a bridge. “Protestors march onto the West Gate Bridge.”

A Twitter user shared a video in which protesters seem to chant “fuck the jab.”

The New York Times reported the protests also saw demonstrators hurling bottles at the police and setting off flares, while officers returned fire with rubber bullets and pepper spray.

A graphic video, shared to Twitter, purported to show one protester who had been bloodied after being hit with riot-control munitions. “HELP needed… Video first found on telegram @freaksenseworld As of today 00:10 am german time.Text:” can someone please report if this is true today from Melbourne rubber Bullet from Cops, he passed away this evening. R.I.P my heart goes out to his family and his friends.”