Melbourne trade protests: CBD rioters turn on each other as rally fizzles out
After days of havoc in Melbourne’s CBD, organizers of the violent trade protests have admitted defeat, one thing causing them to run out of steam.
Organizers of the traditional Melbourne protests admitted defeat after protesters spent most of Friday morning bickering over where to meet.
A fifth consecutive day of protests was scheduled for Friday, after anti-vax and anti-foreclosure activists and traders protesting the construction industry shutdown pledged to wreak havoc “every day” until that their demands are met.
But a strong police presence in the city ultimately prevented protesters from regrouping as they had done on previous days, with organizers conceding defeat around noon.
Messages on the encrypted Telegram messaging app showed protesters and organizers turned on each other as their illegal event failed to take off for the second day in a row.
“This is what happens when a handful of people try to market themselves and run their own show,” wrote one organizer.
â3 days of walking don’t change people, it has to be relentless every day until our demands are met. Sad day for Victoria.
Protesters could not agree on a place to regroup on Friday after police squandered their first meeting point at the intersection of Bourke and Elizabeth streets.
Some people have proposed Edinburgh Gardens as an alternative meeting place, but protesters claimed it was “fake news”.
Police arrested several people at the scheduled meeting place as they easily eliminated the protesters on their own and in small groups.
The protesters also turned on each other the day before with multiple feuds between protesters leading to the turmoil on Thursday.
Eventually, a top organizer gave up, urging people to return home because there was “no reason to be harassed if nothing were to happen.”
The rioters were also unable to regroup on Thursday as they had done for the previous three days, leading to arguments between them and a protest that ultimately fizzled out.
The group was initially unable to agree on a location to meet with Yarra Park, the Exhibition St vaccination center, St Kilda Beach and Chapel St, all billed as botched meeting places.
Members of the group also began to accuse each other of being undercover cops trying to sabotage their event.
They also accused police of blocking live broadcasts of their protest on social media platforms.
In a post seen by NCA NewsWire, a protester asks, âHow many cops in this group are talking, eh?
âProbably the same amount that is causing trouble in the protest. I picked a few, âreplied another protester.
Another protester also claimed that there were “some real shit guys yesterday”.
One person also posted a photo of a woman they believed to be an undercover police officer, prompting angry reactions from several people.
âLol fucking idiot. Stop inventing bullshit, she’s not a cop,â one said.
âSomeone get rid of the spammers please. Can we keep this protest group and support protests only,â another protester said.
An intensification of police action also contributed to the more modest action on Thursday, with officers crushing smaller groups as they moved around the city in search of other protesters.
Hundreds of officers in riot gear were seen patrolling the town after Police Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters officers would use “different tactics” to control the chaos.
More than 600 people have been arrested during illegal protests across the city since Saturday, with at least 92 arrested on Thursday, as protesters vowed to return each day until their demands are met.
Thursday’s arrests concerned violations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s instructions and other matters, including pending warrants.
Hundreds of protesters occupied the Shrine of Remembrance for several hours on Wednesday, while thousands wreaked havoc on the West Gate Bridge on Tuesday.
On Monday, protesters ransacked the CFMEU office on Elizabeth Street and on Saturday they marched through Richmond and Kew where they clashed with police.
Police again urged protesters who were planning to enter the city on Friday without a legitimate aim to stay at home.
âVictoria Police will continue to have a very visible presence throughout the city for the next few days,â said Acting Sgt. Melissa Seach.
It comes as Victoria’s health department has confirmed that a person who attended the rally in the CBD on Wednesday tested positive for Covid-19 and was being treated in hospital.
“We urge protesters to get tested if they have Covid-like symptoms, no matter how mild,” the department said.