Anti-lockdown protesters hold ‘freedom rallies’ in Australia; pelt cops with plants and bottles
- The protest organisers had dubbed the protest a "freedom" rally and publicised it on social media pages associated with vaccine disinformation and conspiracy theories,
Anti-lockdown protestors numbering in the thousands took to the streets in Australia’s big cities, defying stay-at-home orders and clashing with the police. In Sydney, protesters were seen uprooting plants and picking bottles from the sidewalks and hurling them at the police, reported Bloomberg. Another crowd was captured on video, chanting “freedom freedom” and marching in the city’s central business district.
David Elliott, police and emergency services minister for New South Wales, criticised the protesters, telling reporters that “these are the sort of people who are going to prolong this lockdown”. About 50 people have been arrested so far in Sydney. Rallies also took place in other cities like Melbourne. The actual number of protesters is not yet known but Elliot indicated around 3,500 people participated in the mass protests. “What we saw today were 3,500 very selfish boofheads,” he said.
The protest organisers had dubbed the protest a "freedom" rally and publicised it on social media pages associated with vaccine disinformation and conspiracy theories, reported AFP. Resentment has been growing amongst the masses over the Scott Morrison government’s handling of the pandemic. Most of the protestors were seen walking maskless and were carrying signboards with slogans like "Wake up Australia" and "Drain the Swamp".
Millions of Australians have been put under lockdown as a combination of the Delta variant and slow vaccine rollouts have been leading to a rise in the number of cases. Australia has administered enough doses for just 21% of its population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.
The country’s vaccination drive has slowed down further after a new advisory recommending the AstraZeneca jab only for those aged 60 and above was released last month. However, faced with mounting rates of infection and supply constraints of the Pfizer shot, the government’s technical advisory group has asked adults in the Sydney area to consider the AstraZeneca shot.