Melbourne protests LIVE: Victoria Police braced for fourth day of anti-vaccine protests

Melbourne protests LIVE: Victoria Police braced for fourth day of anti-vaccine protests

September 22, 2021

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Stand-off at Shrine ends in cloud of tear gas and hail of police rounds

Melbourne endured a third day of anti-vaccine anarchy on Wednesday as protesters chanted “freedom” on the steps of one of the city’s most sacred landmarks, the Shrine of Remembrance, only to be blasted off late in the afternoon by police firing non-lethal rounds.

The Shrine, which was built in 1934 and commemorates those who served and died in Australia’s wars, was left with its lawns littered with rubbish, including a full can of chickpeas, tear gas canisters and leftover “bean” rounds. One decorated veteran stood by with his head in his hands.

A visibly upset man at the Shrine on Wednesday. Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther said it was “completely disrespectful” the protesters gathered there. Credit:Jason South

The hours-long stand-off between police and several hundred protesters came at the end of another meandering march through the city. Once the demonstrators had occupied the steps of the Shrine and were sitting around the eternal flame, they chanted a mix of anti-vaccine slogans and invective at Premier Daniel Andrews, as well as singing the national anthem and holding a minute’s silence for people who had died by suicide during the pandemic. At one stage they took a knee in front of police officers.

Shrine chairman Captain Stephen Bowater decried the protest as “disgraceful and disrespectful”. “The Shrine of Remembrance is sacred. It is not a place of protest,” he said. RSL Victoria said the protesters were “completely disrespecting the sanctity” of the site.

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Good morning

Good morning and welcome to The Age’s live blog covering the continued protests in Melbourne.

Here’s hoping for no seismic activity today.

Yesterday’s protest culminated in a stand-off with police on the steps of The Shrine of Remembrance, the war memorial on St Kilda Road honouring the service and sacrifice of Australians at war.

Up to 1,000 demonstrators, a mixture of construction workers, and anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown believers, staged a sit-in that lasted more than three hours with police trying to negotiate for a peaceful exit.

The stand-off became more volatile when dozens refused to leave, with police firing non-lethal force such as foam baton rounds, beanbag rounds and capsicum spray.

Protests are expected to continue today.

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