Crowds of protesters gathered in the capital city of Victoria state on Saturday to decry the region’s sweeping vaccine mandates, which cover the vast majority of occupations, as well as other Covid-related regulations. The rally began outside the regional parliament, with people then marching to Melbourne West Police Station.
In the process, the number of demonstrators grew to several thousand, according to Australian media, with young children reportedly among them.
Protesters then surrounded the police station while chanting, “You serve us.” One person walked in to hand over “some paperwork” to the police. Local media reported that the man claimed the officers were “taking directions from the government which is against the law.”
The rally passed without incident, with crowds dispersing after several hours.
Anti-mandate demonstrations have been held all across Australia, but most notably in the state of Victoria, for several consecutive weeks, often peaking on weekends. It is worth mentioning, though, that this time around, protesters in Melbourne had to brave 34 degrees Celsius heat (93 degrees Fahrenheit).
Slogans during Saturday’s rally ranged from the general “no vax mandate” and “save our nation,” to religious-themed ones, such as “In the name of God, for our and your freedoms” as well as “Jesus wins.”
Some demonstrators, mostly unmasked, also carried placards that offered “free hugs.”
Another recurring theme at these protests are calls to “Sack Dan Andrews,” which refer to Victoria’s premier who, back in November, put in place sweeping vaccine mandates for employees working outside their homes, covering, effectively, most of the state’s industries.
According to some media reports, Andrews is now considering making booster doses a requirement for those who received their last shot more than six months ago.
It all comes amid a spike in Covid cases in Victoria, with 1,504 new infections and seven deaths recorded on Saturday. There are also 19 known Omicron cases in the state.
Apart from Melbourne, a similar, thousands-strong demonstration was held on Saturday in the capital of Queensland, Brisbane.