When Sydneysiders awoke on Saturday, many expected the day would unfold in much the same fashion as the last 26. Bland, burning and impossibly predictable, life in lockdown has provided few departures to the norm, but for a city under strict orders, today the sense of déjà Vu was unfounded. Thousands of anti-lockdown protestors descended on Victoria Park in Broadway, eager to voice their dissatisfaction with the ongoing restrictions and small business closures. What was billed as a March for Freedom quickly became a major concern for authorities, with hoards people flaunting stay at home orders. But as the protestors made their way down Broadway and through George Street, the sheer size of the event began to take shape.
Anyone that knows me knows how much I love horses.
I would not be opposed to locking this vile creature up for a long time.
— Josh Holt (@JoshHoltTEN) July 24, 2021
Around 3,500 anti-lockdown protesters, many maskless and seen holding placards emblazoned with anti-vaccination messages, took to the streets, sparking police clashes and 57 arrests. The NSW Police commission confirmed that the Sydney protest was in breach of public health orders, resulting in more than 90 infringements issued.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said further charges were expected, confirming the police have launched a new strike force. The force aims to identify “as many people as possible” involved in the protest activity and to track down 3500 “very selfish boofheads”. He also urged anyone who attended the protest to get tested for COVID-19.
Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon also condemned the actions of anti-lockdown protestors, citing reports that police were assaulted in the event. “Anyone who thinks they can get away with the types of actions we saw will be chased by the law, to the full extent of the law,” he said.
Held as part of a national ‘Rally for Freedom’ that saw marches in capital cities across the country, the Sydney anti-lockdown protests far eclipsed other states’ representation, and it’s a cause for concern. COVID case numbers are increasing in Sydney and the city remains on a knife’s edge. With 3,500 people joining together in close proximity, the potential for a super spreader event is dangerously high. The response online has been damning.
Several people have taken to social media to share their disgust in the anti-lockdown protest, both in terms of message and execution. Not only did the protest go against public health orders, it also saw a series of volatile actions, including images that appear to show a man punching a horse and a street performer brandishing two flaming sticks.
While the overwhelming reaction has been negative, the anti-lockdown protests suggest Sydney’s vaccination hesitancy is more ingrained than first thought. For the first time this lockdown, the true scale of the movement here in New South Wales is finally being realised. The unknowns now are what the toll will be and how the government will respond. Most importantly, will these anti-lockdown protests proved to be Sydney’s version of an insurrection?
— charbel (@chaaarbs) July 24, 2021
The same people that give zero f”””” about refugees being lockdown in prison for 8 years suddenly think they are Nelson Mandela after 4 weeks of being asked to be safe & not think about just themselves because we are all in a life – threating pandemic. #sydneyprotest #COVID19Aus pic.twitter.com/qe6fixxWf2
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) July 24, 2021
Just a little, quiet Sydney protest. How absolutely selfish 🤦🏼♀️🤬 – what more is there to say….. https://t.co/uJc7R61j4N @NSWHealth #sydneyprotest #lockdownprotest #COVID19Aus via @newscomauHQ pic.twitter.com/1aexBqa6sa
— Melissa Hoyer (@melissahoyer) July 24, 2021
— Matt (@matt_j_lewis) July 24, 2021
Some of you protestors have never held the hand of a person you love most as they take their last breath and it fucking shows. Wondering how you live without them. I hope your actions don’t cause somebody that pain. You are disgraceful. Vid @tiffgenders #COVID19nsw #sydneyprotest pic.twitter.com/jaEGX0zSJP
— Jelisa Apps (@JelisaApps) July 24, 2021
— Soraiya Fuda (@SoraiyaFuda) July 24, 2021
Enjoy the big house red hood. Pushing a police officer over from behind. You pathetic human. I hope you’re identified. #COVID19nsw #covidsydney #SydneyLockdown #sydneyprotest pic.twitter.com/D6uSTLKdO9
— Cam (@camliveshere) July 24, 2021