Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Melbourne for four hours chanting to police “you serve us”, as another planned protest has begun in Queensland on Saturday, where up to 10,000 protesters reportedly marched in defiance pandemic policies.
Crowds gathered on the street outside Victoria’s state parliament by midday on Saturday before surrounding Melbourne West Police Station about 2pm.
Young children were among those in the crowd who began walking down Bourke Street about 12.30pm.
Protesters were seen halting oncoming cars at the corner of Bourke and Exhibition Streets.
The group of protesters appeared to have swelled to several thousand marchers by 1pm.
On-foot police officers were forced to divert oncoming traffic away as the group walked to Bourke Street Mall.
Some protesters pleaded with onlookers to join them saying “wake up, can’t you see what’s going on?”
The crowd came to a halt every so often, ensuring protesters walked behind the line of banners at the front of the group as they moved towards the police station.
Aerial images show thousands of protesters wrapping the station while they chanted “you serve us” to nearby officers.
James Newburrie was at his Lonsdale Street home playing music with headphones when he heard the protest.
“I was practising guitar and I had headphones on and I could hear the chants,” Mr Newburrie told NCA Newswire.
“I’m very high up but I could hear it through the music.”
Mr Newburrie said the protest looked “entirely peaceful” and in very good order, taking about 12 minutes for the crowd to disperse on the street.
Multiple speakers stood in front of the crowd, with one saying “politicians don’t own us” as he was cheered on.
Velvet Revolution Australia leader Lyn Bennetts got up to talk about 12.40pm.
“We are here today to claim back our establishment, at 1pm we will wander up to the High Court and at 2pm we are going to the Governor’s House,” she said.
“They are our establishments.”
Ms Bennetts told the crowd to try and avoid arrest by putting hands in their pockets if approached by police.
“If they are tough, everyone needs to videotape it, that is grievous bodily harm which is seven years in jail,” she said.
The protesters then walked into Flagstaff Gardens and dispersed across the grass as live entertainment played, with one man singing a song about “taking back freedom”.
Other lyrics the man sang include “no more vaccines” and “no more segregation”.
“No more Dan Andrews … I won’t be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave,” the man sang while playing his guitar.
Victorians need to be double vaccinated to access most venues and workplaces in the state.
However, thousands of people in the state continue to protest against the government mandate and Premier Daniel Andrews.
One sign at the protest read “No vax mandate! No vax passport! Kill the bill!”
Some signs bore the symbol of the cross with one saying: “In the name of God, for our and your freedoms”.
At 3pm, the crowd left Flagstaff Gardens and walked to the Melbourne Supreme Court where Ms Bennetts said she would be issuing paperwork to “lawfully remove” people from the building.
“It’s our governor’s house, we own it and we pay for it,” she told the crowd, who cheered her on.
“We issued a lawful Sheriff’s decree on the Supreme Court which is great, and we also issued a trespass notice, so they cannot enter back into that building.”
“We are requesting people if they see them going inside that building that they videotape them then we can send a sheriff to arrest them.”
As the sun blazed down the crowd then walked to the Governor’s House about 4pm to do the same.
A line of up to 20 police stood at the front of the building as Ms Bennetts taped both “lawful decrees” on the front gate.
Following more speeches the protest wrapped up and members of the crowd dispersed.
It comes as Victoria records 1504 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths with the government pushing for 750,000 eligible people to get their booster dose.
Another rally in Brisbane kicked off in the inner suburbs of West End and South Brisbane about 3pm local time.
About 10,000 people were estimated to be in attendance, although crowds have been growing.
“Disappointingly, we see minority of people doing the wrong thing here,” Commissioner Katarina Carroll said on Saturday morning.
“So we’ve always taken an approach that we will facilitate protests, if need be, we should certainly support that.
“But what I ask is that people in those protests do the right thing. And it’s always the minority that make it very difficult for us in the public. So please do the right thing. Respect the law. And hopefully, in the next few months, we will get back to a little bit more normality.”
Queensland police warned of a “large-scale gathering” in a separate media release earlier on Saturday morning as part of a “co-ordinated protest” across the country.
“Businesses and members of the public are advised there may be traffic delays in the area as a result and should plan their trips accordingly,” Queensland Police Service said in a statement.