Anti-lockdown walkers were doused with pepper spray and struggled with cops as community frustration with Melbourne’s draconian Stage 4 restrictions reached boiling point.
Police issued $15,000 in fines and arrested four men during a wild afternoon clash at Dandenong in Melbourne’s southeast on Wednesday – amid fears the nightly walks could soon escalate into full scale riots.
In video shared on social media, police can be seen aiming pepper spray at walkers as officers tackle a man to the ground.
A police officer on Wednesday charges at walkers wielding pepper spray after his colleagues took down a man who was not wearing a mask
A man is taken down by police in Dandenong on Wednesday evening after going for a group walk
One of the walkers shows his injuries from a scuffle with police
Confronting footage shows officers take a man down from behind by the neck amid screams from the crowd that he was simply going for a walk.
The man, who was not wearing a mask, was pulled off the road and tackled while other officers scurried to fend off the crowd.
Another man has a can of pepper spray pushed into his face and sprayed at near point blank range after shrugging off an officer and walking away.
Among those arrested were a a 28-year-old Dandenong man, who was subsequently charged with assaulting police, resisting arrest, failing to state his name and address and breaching the chief health officer directions.
A 19-year-old Dandenong man was also charged with use threatening words, failing to state his name and address and breaching the chief health officer directions while a 22-year-old Dandenong faces similar charges.
All three were released pending summons, but all nine were fined $1652 each for breaching the stage four lockdown restrictions.
Tensions in Dandenong – south east of Melbourne – have been flaring for days after a large group of residents decided to start walking at the same time and place.
Under Stage Four restrictions Melbourne residents can only leave their homes for four reasons, to buy essential items like groceries, for care or to give care, exercise and work.
There is also a nightly curfew from 8pm until 5am.
Photos show one of the men taken down by police covered in blood and grazes on his face.
Angry residents have already indicated the nightly walks could turn into a full blown riot.
‘That female cop is a joke, on a power trip, the lot of them,’ one person posted under a video of the arrest. ‘They need to watch out, the riots will begin in no time.’
‘Straight outta Nazi germany,’ another posted. ‘Probably were cryogenically (sic) frozen SS officers.’
Police have warned they will consider issuing penalty notices to anyone else found to be in breach of the directions issued by the Chief Health Officer.
Officers have been seen cruising the nightly walks and filming the crowds from the safety of their vehicles.
The uprising comes as the political stoush ramps up over a proposed 12-month extension to Victoria’s state of emergency to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Victoria recorded 23 deaths and 113 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – the lowest number of new cases for weeks.
This man was sprayed in the face with pepper spray after pushing past police on Wednesday in Dandenong
An older man is placed in handcuffs after going for a walk in Dandenong on Wednesday
An officer warns walkers to stand back or they will cop a spray of pepper in their eyes
A police officer grapples with an unmasked man moments before he is taken down
Dozens of people, including women, children and families, can be seen thumbing their noses at Stage Four lockdown laws in Dandenong in video posted to social media on Tuesday.
The latest video emerged days after a video of police busting up a group exercise session in the same suburb was posted online.
In that video, a man filmed an expletive-laden rant in which he described mask-wearing police officers as ‘Nazi dogs’ and accused them of cashing in on the pandemic.
In a video posted by a Dandenong local on Tuesday night, police can be seen shadowing dozens of people as they walk along a busy street.
‘Let the Nazis do their work,’ someone is heard shouting as police cars appear around them.
Police officers can be seen marching down the middle of the road and shouting at the people to stay off the road.
‘You get off the f**king road,’ they respond.
‘Youse are looking for it. Youse are dogs.’
A man is heard commentating as he conducts his hour-long walk within the allowed 5km radius of his home.
‘People need to wake up. This is what we’re dealing with here,’ he says.
Residents can be heard booing police as they stop to question sections of the crowd.
‘We pay them to follow us walk … we pay these dogs to follow us walk,’ the man says.
One officer can be seen with his pepper spray in hand ready to use at any moment.
When questioned, the man hands over his identification and explains that he is simply going for his hour-long walk.
Most of the walkers appear to be wearing masks.
The policeman warns the man he will be fined if he saw him again later that day on another walk.
This man had pepper spray squirted straight into his face after he pushed past police in Dandenong on Wednesday
A police officer attempts to arrest a man in Dandenong on Wednesday
People enjoy a cheeky stroll in Dandenong, south east of Melbourne
Police descended on a crowd of ten young people who were exercising at the George Andrews reserve on Monday
At present, the declaration can only run for six months and will expire on September 13 along with Melbourne’s Stage Four lockdown and regional Victoria’s Stage 3 rules.
On Monday, Victoria premier Dan Andrews said his government won’t be able to dictate guidelines such as mandatory mask use and isolation rules without a 12-month extension.
‘We’ve got to protect public health, there can be no economic rebuilding until we fix this problem,’ he told reporters.
The man in Tuesday’s video warned that Melburnians were fed up with the current police state of Victoria.
‘People are already starting to lose their minds,’ he says as he continues his walk.
‘Now imagine another year on top of that. Imagine the businesses that are going to go bankrupt. Imagine the suicides.’
Police are about to unleash pepper spray into this man’s face in Dandenong
A police officer (far left) pulls out his pepper spray in anticipation of trouble on Tuesday night
Police cars blocked the road as they filmed people going for a walk in Dandenong in Tuesday
People in Dandenong continue to taunt police with large groups of people all walking at the same time
On Monday, tempers flared when a convoy of nine police vehicles were seen pulling up to George Andrew reserve in Dandenong.
‘Wake up you Nazi dogs, you are f****** Victoria Police you are not f****** Nazis!’ a man in that video told police.
The angry resident, along with a number of other locals, confronted the officers after witnessing the squad cars pull into the park.
‘Look at this? For what, for ten kids around here doing exercise, they are kids mate! Wake up to yourselves,’ the man said.
He accused police of wasting tax payers money and state resources before asking if they ‘feel great’ about themselves while people around them had ‘lost everything’.
‘We lost our jobs, you have your jobs, we lost our homes, you have your homes,’ the man said.
‘You got a pay rise because of us mate!’
Victoria Police received close to a three percent pay rise after agreeing to a new deal with the State Government in December, 2019.
The Dandenong local became increasingly agitated after one of the officers told him ‘we are all in this together’.
A Dandenong man labelled Victoria Police ‘Nazi dogs’ after dozens of officers descended on a park where people were exercising during the COVID-19 Stage Four lockdown (pictured)
After officers forced the man and others from the park (pictured) he chastised them saying they were acting like Nazis, not Victoria Police, before telling the cops to ‘go f*** yourselves’
Under Stage Four restrictions Melbourne residents can only leave their homes for four reasons, to buy essential items like groceries, for care or to give care, exercise and work (a police officer pictured in Melbourne’s empty CBD during lockdown)