Australian law enforcement utilized pepper spray, rubber bullets, and tear gas against thousands of angry citizens who participated in a large scale protest in Melbourne in the State of Victoria on August 21 after being subject to more than 200 days of lockdown since the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic first began.
On August 4, Victoria, under the leadership of Chinese Communist Party Belt and Road Initiative signatory Premier Daniel Andrews, entered its sixth so-called “snap lockdown,” originally scheduled to last for 7 days. The lockdown was once again extended by at least an additional two weeks.
Victorian MP James Newbury, a member of the opposition party, sounded the alarm on the tangible side effects lockdowns take on public health in an August 17 tweet, “Today, there are 12 Victorians in hospital with COVID—2 in ICU. This week, 148 teenagers will be rushed to hospital after self-harming and suffering suicidal thoughts. The mental health shadow pandemic is real.”
Lifeline Australia, a mental health hotline, reported it had “smashed” a record high daily volume of incoming calls on August 20 at 3,505. The previous record was set just four days later on August 16 at 3,436.
According to data from Google, on August 4, Victoria with its nearly 6.7 million residents registered 6 positive PCR tests. That number has slowly climbed to 66 on August 21, producing a 7-day average of 44, numbers that are comparatively very low in the developed world.
In an August 21 video by the Australian branch of Canada’s Rebel News, reporter Avi Yemeni reported from the front lines of the protest, capturing dramatic footage of Melbourne police using force against a large and increasingly angry crowd of protestors.
One middle aged woman who attended the protest with a friend was pepper sprayed by police. When Yemeni interviewed the duo in the aftermath, he asked, “They’ve done all that for ‘health’?”
“Yes, for our health” said the woman’s notably outraged friend. “That’s the priority here, isn’t it? Our bloody health.”
In a second clip with a woman in her mid 20s, the woman, also visibly livid, said, “And then the police are pepper spraying people for speaking the truth? What does that say? That says the truth shouldn’t be spoken.”
During a third interview with a woman in her early 20s, the youth said it was her first time attending a protest. When Yemeni asked why she decided to attend, her response was sharp, “Because the last time I was too scared that I’d get arrested. And this time I thought f*** them, I don’t care.”
Premier Dan Andrews villainized protest attendees in comments to the media, “Some of the scenes on Saturday were not only disgusting, but they were absolutely unlawful,” reported the Daily Mail.
Andrews vowed, “The full force of the law will be brought upon those people.”
He also said “I will not really even call it a protest. It was a mob protesting all different things and a whole lot of them intent of having a fight, regardless of what brought them together.”
In early March, Andrews found himself in intensive care after allegedly slipping and falling on a wet staircase while preparing for work. He suffered several broken ribs and a broken back, putting him out of action for several months as he underwent physiotherapy.
While Andrews was in the hospital, Australia’s federal government cancelled Victoria’s BRI agreement with Beijing, citing foreign policy concerns.
In a curious statement, on August 16, Andrews told the public during a COVID update press conference where a curfew was announced for the city of Victoria that citizens were no longer allowed to remove their masks to drink alcohol in public, “There will be no removal of masks to consume alcohol outdoors. So you will no longer be able to remove your mask to drink a cocktail at a pop-up beer garden on a footpath as part of a pub crawl.”
Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton said on August 22 that the state would likely shutter public transport to prevent future protests, “To shut down the transport network to prevent people coming in…that’s a huge call, but it’s one that we’re now going to seriously entertain on the next occasion because I’m not going to tolerate this occurring again,” he told reporters.
“They’re not entitled to put their views above the law. I just hope it doesn’t result in any mass spread of COVID-19,” said Patton, who claimed the 4,000 strong protest was “one of the most violent protests we’ve seen in nearly 20 years.”
Patton blamed “angry men…between 25 and 40,” who he described as, “intent on causing this mayhem, intent on being involved in this criminal activity.”
According to AAP, Andrews alluded to freedom only being returned when 80 percent of Victoria has accepted the experimental mRNA or Adenovirus Vector gene therapy injections, “Our long-term strategy to be open, to be growing, to be employing, to be in a very different world, is for 80 percent of people to be through that vaccination program.”