Melbourne Police on Alert for Anti-Lockdown Protests

Melbourne Police on Alert for Anti-Lockdown Protests
Police detain a protester at a small-scale rally against COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne on Aug. 9, 2020. (William West via Getty Images)

Anti-lockdown protesters are expected to gather in Melbourne today on Sept 12 in what authorities say is an unlawful, selfish exercise that could spread COVID-19 virus.

The Melbourne Freedom Walk is scheduled for 11am at the Tan running track on the edge of the Botanical Gardens, according to social media. There may also be protests in other locations.

It is unknown how many people are expected to turn up to the Tan event, given the original event was taken down earlier in the week by Facebook.

An anti-lockdown rally was held at the Shrine of Remembrance last weekend resulting in 17 arrests and more than 160 fines being issued for breaching health directions.

Posts on social media indicate plans for so-called "freedom" rallies to happen every Saturday until restrictions end.

Premier Daniel Andrews pleaded with people not to take part.

"All you're potentially doing is spreading the virus," he said on Friday.

A frustrated assistant commissioner of police Luke Cornelius told reporters on Friday that "if people were less selfish and a bit more grown up, we wouldn't have to keep doing this".

"I feel a bit like a dog returning to eat his own vomit," he said.

"I'm sick of it."

Cornelius said significant police resources would be on hand, taking officers away from other important areas of policing.

Police arrested 43-year-old Tony Pecora on Thursday who is an alleged key organiser of anti-lockdown agitation.

When interviewed Pecora allegedly told officers he believes coronavirus case numbers have been highly exaggerated, and that COVID-19 is genetically engineered by world banks to kill off weak humans.

He quoted Midnight Oil, telling police if someone contracted coronavirus at one of his events "it would be better to die on your feet than live on your knees".

He faced court on Friday accused of inciting others to protest and was given bail.

Under his bail conditions he cannot use social media or contact co-organisers.

The "Melbourne Freedom Walk" asks citizens to "come together, get healthy and talk about getting our freedoms back".

Cornelius said it was silly to justify protesting by calling it exercise.

"Don't take us for fools," he said.

"We'll have no hesitation in issuing fines."

By Andi Yu in Melbourne