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Protesters arrested as police crack down on anti-lockdown rally

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Anti-lockdown protests have taken place in Melbourne for the third weekend in a row, despite warnings from police and health authorities to stay at home.

Anti-lockdown protests have begun in Melbourne for the third weekend in a row, despite warnings from police and health authorities to stay at home.

The location of the protests had been kept secret until earlier today in an attempt to avoid police and encrypted messages were being used to communicate to hundreds who showed interest in the event in order to protect the identities of organisers.

READ MORE: Follow our live blog for breaking news and updates on COVID-19 have made multiple arrests.

Demonstrators gathered in Elsternwick Park, prompting an immediate police response.

At least two people have been arrested for breaching public health orders.

"Police have made a number of arrests in Elsternwick after a small number of people had gathered in blatant breach of the Chief Health Officer's directions," Victoria Police said in a statement.

"While we know the majority of the community are doing the right thing, the behaviour of these selfish few who choose to blatantly ignore the direction will not be tolerated.

"We will continue to take the same swift and firm action against those who choose to blatantly ignore the directions, and our investigations will continue."

Protesters gathered at Elsternwick Park.

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At least three rallies are expected to occur this weekend including two today and another one tomorrow.

Adding to the concern of authorities is claims of an army of volunteers to act as "police for the people".

Police will be keeping a close eye on supermarkets, with a small group planning to carry out a protest in the aisles.

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Police have also been door-knocking dozens of homes, asking protesters not to attend.

Premier Daniel Andrews addressed the protests in his daily coronavirus press conference yesterday, saying the rallies were "illegal and irresponsible" and police would "deal" with anyone who failed to heed warnings not to attend.

Protesters clash with Police at the Queen Victoria Market on September 13, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor)

The protests come after a positive week for Victoria as COVID-19 case numbers continue to decline and restrictions ease for regional areas.

Health authorities are concerned this weekend's protests could set the state back after enduring more than two months of stage four lockdown measures in an attempt to contain the deadly second wave.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp condemned the actions of anti-lockdown protesters earlier in the week after chaotic scenes at Queen Victoria Markets last Sunday.

"Nobody wants to see those scenes. The aggression was really disappointing," she told Today.

"We have seen so many of the good things of the way that Melburnians have responded to this health crisis and we need to keep focused on that.

"I know it's frustrating, I know it can be infuriating but the fact is we need to get those numbers down for us to reopen."

Source: 9News

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