Thursday, September 23, 2021

Melbourne lockdowns trigger violence and rioting

Melbourne descends into chaos as police arrest 62 and fire rubber pellets at anti-lockdown protesters | The Guardian - Ben Doherty & Caitlin Cassidy:

September 21, 2021 - "Police have fired pepper balls and stinger grenades at violent anti-Covid lockdown protesters on the streets of Melbourne as Australia’s second-largest city – under stay-at-home orders for the 233rd day in total – descended into chaos. Protesters dressed as construction workers clashed with police for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, assaulting officers, smashing police car windows, throwing bottles and stones, and damaging property.... Video footage on social media showed police cars trying to leave one area before a mob attacked the vehicles with bottles and smashed windows. A line of riot police, weapons raised, then drove the protesters back....

"A broader protest on Saturday also descended into violence with police overrun by protesters who, pushed out of the inner city, moved to suburban streets. More than 200 people were arrested in those protests and 10 police officers were injured, including three who were hospitalised with broken bones.... On Monday, riot police were called in to disperse a group of about 500 protesters, who threw bottles at the Victorian CFMEU construction secretary, John Setka, and smashed the office’s door down."

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In Australia, 233-day lockdown triggers violent protests, rioting mobs on rampage | Times of India - Priyanka A Chokhani, TNN:

September 22, 2020 - "Melbourne ranks among the most liveable cities in the world, with a thriving nightlife and a vibrant art scene. But on March 23, 2020, pubs closed their doors and galleries their entrances ... amid a rise in Covid-19 cases. Since then, Melbourne has had six lockdowns, over 233 days. The sudden loss of mobility has hit people hard. 

"Anti-lockdown protests — that erupted sporadically since 2020 — turned violent on Saturday.... Police are now mulling use of a specially equipped Public Order Response Team to crack down on such protests and to treat protestors as rioters.

"But why has public anger boiled over? The lockdown in Australia is among the world’s harshest....  Over 20,000 Australians are stuck overseas, waiting for the government to open borders. The government has declared it would ease restrictions only once the country touches 80% vaccination. But that seems a long way off. At 43%, the percentage of fully vaccinated people in the country is low compared with other developed nations....  

"Melbourne residents, used to queuing up only for sporting events, are now lining up for Covid tests.... Doctors’ appointments have to be booked days in advance — many are only taking online consultations — and non-emergency surgeries remain shelved.... One can step out only for groceries, exercise, medical help, [or with a permit for] work and vaccination. There is a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am.... In the past year, residents have also grown accustomed to heavy police presence on the roads.... 

"Social isolation has taken a toll and mental health helplines have recorded a 30% increase in calls this year. According to professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, 'In 2020, there was panic at the start of the pandemic. This year, the panic has subsided, but [many] people are no longer able to cope with the changes they once thought would be temporary. They are increasingly resorting to drug and alcohol abuse.'"

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