Dan Andrews has torn strips off ‘evil’ protesters who flooded Australian streets to protest against Covid lockdowns.
Thousands of ‘Freedom Rally’ demonstrators took to the streets of Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday despite both cities fighting Delta strain outbreaks.
The furious Melbourne premier was joined by NSW leader Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in harshly condemning participants.
Mr Andrews mentioned the protests as he reported 11 new cases on Sunday, but finally lost his cool for an epic tirade when answering questions.
Pictured: Daniel Andrews delivering a press conference. He slammed people who participated in the anti-lockdown protests
‘Protesting this thing is just so wrong,’ he told reporters.
‘If you are not persuaded by me on the issue of the protest being, frankly, evil, then go and have a talk to the family of that poor woman who died… struck down in the prime of her life.’
Mr Andrews was referring to a woman in her 30s with no underlying medical conditions who died in Sydney on Saturday as a result of Covid-19.
‘We can’t vaccinate against selfishness, and these people should be ashamed, absolutely ashamed, it’s just wrong.’
He acknowledged that Melburnians ensuring their fifth lockdown since the start of the pandemic are frustrated, but said the protest was a ‘risk no one needed to take’.
‘We’re not cuddling up to these people,’ he said, rejecting calls for more conciliatory language to reach lockdown protesters and vaccine sceptics.
‘Seriously, I don’t know what half of them are protesting against, but it’s illegal, it’s unsafe, it’s selfish and it puts at risk the hard work that millions of other Victorians are doing.
‘It’s simply wrong, and if calling it out for the appalling behaviour that it is offends them, tough. They’ll need to get over that.’
Pictured: Protesters clashing with police during the ‘World Wide Rally For Freedom’ anti-lockdown rally in
Thousands turned out in Sydney and Melbourne (pictured) demanding an end to Covid-19 lockdowns
Some protesters took it upon themselves to set off smoke bombs during protests in Melbourne where six were arrested
Mr Andrews also said he was unsure whether people were marching against Covid, the global world order or vaccines, but slammed the demonstration as ‘no way to behave’.
‘That is self-indulgent, it’s selfish, it’s wrong, and Victoria Police are having a close look at everyone who was involved,’ he said.
Throughout the hour-long conference, Mr Andrews went on a multiple spiels about how the protest will likely make no difference to the length of the state’s lockdown.
But he said there was always a possibility that an undetected case was among the crowd and said no one had the right to ‘put anyone else at risk’.
‘Protests are not a smart thing to do, they’re the wrong thing to do… let’s hope there was not a case out there, let’s hope it wasn’t bubbling along outside the net that we cast, only to then be spread out a fundamentally selfish and illegal protest yesterday,’ he said.
When asked whether police lost control of the demonstration, Mr Andrews said he was not going to give a running commentary on the performance of Victoria Police.
Police are seen firing capsicum spray towards protesters that selfishly put others at risk amid a recent Covid outbreak
Huge protests in Melbourne could see Victoria’s lockdown extended, police warned after so-called ‘Freedom Day’ demonstrators chanted anti-vax slogans, blocked traffic and set off flares outside Parliament
Another man is seen on the ground after being tackled by police in Sydney as thousands gathered to demonstrate against the city’s lockdowns
A woman sobs while being led out of Victoria Park by two policemen during violent protests in Sydney
He believed the cops did their best, ‘but if people are intent in the midst of a pandemic to break the rules, to be selfish, to act in that awful way, then it’s very difficult’.
Police were seen firing pepper spray at brawling protesters in Melbourne, and have since charged 17 people with breaches to lockdown mandates.
Ms Berejiklian also condemned the scenes of violence that marred the streets of Sydney’s CBD where 3,500 people rallied.
‘It broke my heart,’ she said.
‘Millions and millions of people across our state are doing the right thing, and it just broke my heart that people had such a disregard for their fellow citizens.’
The state leader said the demonstration could be a major setback in releasing Sydney from restrictions.
‘But I’m just so utterly disgusted, disappointed and heartbroken that people don’t consider the safety and wellbeing of their fellow citizens,’ she added.
New South Wales police released images of a protester allegedly punching a horse called Tobruk, who they later confirmed was unharmed
With the help of his colleagues the young officer is seen trying to wipe off the ink that was thrown onto his uniform and skin
Protesters were met by mounted police outside Town Hall in Sydney (pictured) with no group prepared to back down
‘Each of those people who illegally protested, I’m sure, have significant loved ones. How would they feel if they went home in their day-to-day life and gave the disease to their loved ones?’
So far, 57 people who attended the rally have been charged, more than 500 infringement notices were issued, and a strikeforce has been established to identify others who were there.
As the chaos unfolded, protesters were filmed crash tackling a policeman into a garden bed in front of Town Hall station in the city’s CBD as officers attempted to make an arrest.
More arrests are likely.
Footage showed angry protesters attacking police and hurling pot plants at officers on horseback.
Frenzied crowds were heard screaming ‘you serve us!’ to police as a group of protesters were filmed crash tackling officers into a garden bed in front of Town Hall station.
Ms Berejiklian said those doing the wrong thing ‘should be ashamed of yourselves’.
NSW Police Minister David Elliott said cops would not hesitate to bring in more police to deal with any future protests.
Pictured: Police holding a protester down in Sydney amid large protests in the CBD on Saturday
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) also fired shots at angry Australians on Sunday
‘Yesterday cannot happen again. So for all those who think that the NSW police are going to allow any unlawful gathering to occur you need to think again,’ he said.
‘The deployments we saw yesterday are just a fraction of what are available.
‘I’m gratified by the fact that over 5,000 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers for members of the public,’ he said.
‘Even more importantly, over 200 people have so far been identified and police are currently following those people up to take appropriate action.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also fired shots at angry Australians on Sunday.
‘Of course it was selfish. It was also self-defeating. It achieves no purpose. It won’t end the lockdown sooner,’ he told reporters.
‘It will only risk the lockdowns running further… There were millions of Sydneysiders who stayed home. They’re the ones who are bringing an end to lockdown sooner.’
Mr Morrison said people at the protest were putting themselves and everyone around them at risk.
Former Liberal John Ruddick, who is now running as the Liberal Democrats in the federal Sydney seat of Warringah, wrote on Twiiter that he was at Saturday’s rally.
‘Just had two courteous police officers at my door to advise I will be getting a $1,000 fine for attending the Sydney Freedom Rally,’ he tweeted on Sunday. ‘No problem – I’ll frame it and put it on the wall.’
Mr Elliott slammed Ruddick and others as ‘political wannabes’ who are trying to use Saturday’s protest to make a name for themselves.
‘It’s disappointing that someone that wants to go to higher public office would get involved in a violent protest and then boast about it,’ he said.
‘That’s very disappointing. I think those individuals need to reflect if they are suitable for public office.’