Thousands of anti-vaccination protesters have swarmed 13 cities across Australia as part of ‘freedom rallies’ to oppose Covid-19 vaccine mandates, as riot police brace for violence.
The Melbourne crowd began to mass outside Victoria’s parliament before midday before walking to Flagstaff Gardens.
The demonstrators loosely comprise of groups who oppose COVID-19 vaccines, mandates and the state’s proposed pandemic laws, which stalled in the upper house this week.
Many chose to dress up for the occasion and brought along handwritten signs reading ‘fight tyranny’ (pictured in Sydney)
A ‘freedom rally’ protester wearing a ‘My Body, My Choice’ t-shirt marches on the street in Melbourne
Watched on by police, they chanted ‘kill the bill’ and yelled ‘sack Dan Andrews’ while carrying placards featuring a range of anti-government and anti-vaccine mandate slogans.
The crowd has since grown to several thousand at the gardens, where a band played John Farnham’s You’re the Voice.
A counter demonstration at the nearby Eight Hour Day Monument has also attracted a smaller crowd but group organisers have pledged not to seek a confrontation.
Thousands turned out at protests around the country on Saturday, demanding an end to vaccination mandates
A protester holds a mock-banner of Daniel Andrews dressed in a prison jumpsuit as rallies unfolded in Melbourne
The ‘freedom rallies’ have already kicked off in the NSW and Victoria capital cities with more demonstrations on the way in 11 other cities on Saturday (pictured, Melbourne)
Protesters raise their fists in solidarity during the ‘freedom’ rally in Melbourne on Saturday
One protester brought along a blow up balloon which read ‘punching bag Dan’ in criticism of Daniel Andrews
Anti-fascists had earlier warned they would be gatecrashing the rally as they believed the demonstrations had been hijacked by far-right groups.
‘All you fascists – about to lose’, ‘you’re anti-vax, you’re anti-health – you can go f**k yourself’, are among the phrases being chanted by the protesters.
Protesters are also waving banners with several anti-fascist messages including ‘Melbourne is an anti-fascist town’, ‘neo-Nazis off our streets’ and ‘stand against the far right’.
Anti-fascists have also made an appearance after vowing to disrupt the ‘freedom rallies’ that they claim have been hijacked by far-right groups
‘Pro-vax, Anti-Fascist’ banner is carried by peaceful protestors rallying against the ‘freedom’ demonstrators
One protestor dressed up as Moses for the occasion in Melbourne on Saturday for the Worldwide Rally for Freedom
The Eureka Flag is a common sighting at the ‘freedom’ rally (pictured, demonstrators in Sydney)
The anti-fascist demonstrators were escorted by police to avoid clashing with the other protesters, some of whom they believe have been infiltrated by far-right members.
Anti-vaccination demonstrators have waved their own placards condemning vaccine mandates and comparing them to ‘segregation’.
‘Hands Off Our Kids’, ‘End Segregation Now’, and ‘Let Hearts Heal’ are among the messages written on the banners.
MP Catherine Cumming attends the ‘freedom rally’ as it takes off in Melbourne on Saturday
Brisbane , Perth , Adelaide , Hobart and other regional centres are among the places where protesters plan to march on the street (pictured, Sydney)
Thousands of protesters have staged anti-vaccination rallies around Australia with demonstrations breaking out in Sydney and Melbourne (pictured, Sydney)
Demonstrators storm the steps outside Victoria Parliament to protest against vaccine mandates
Premier Daniel Andrews was another popular focal point of the demonstrators with several mock-up placards made up of the premier.
Several banners took aim at Mr Andrews and included messages, ‘Dan Andrews Human Rights Abuser’, ‘Everything Dan Touches Turns To Sh**’, and ‘Jail Andrews’.
One demonstrator appeared to make a mockery of the face mask mandate by wearing the face covering with a hole cut out in the middle of it.
A demonstrator in Newtown, Sydney, with a sign that reads: ‘Pro science, anti violence’
Anti-fascist protesters set up a stall in Newtown, Sydney, which read: ‘Pro vax, pro union, anti-fascist’
Melbourne protesters are seen shouting out during a demonstration on Saturday
The mass rally had also drawn support from politicians including Independent MP Catherine Cumming.
In Sydney, several thousands of protesters also marched through the CBD and gathered in Hyde Park to voice their concerns.
Demonstrators sang the national anthem before one of them declared they had ‘taken Sydney back’.
The sound of bagpipes echoed through York St as a man dressed in white screamed ‘destroy the new world order’ and others chanted ‘walk with us’.
The largest demonstrations have been staged in Melbourne with thousands of protesters turning up
Melbourne was overrun with a mix of demonstrators on Saturday – some protested the vaccine mandate, others protested against the protest
Avi Yemini is a popular YouTuber who has frequently been covering the demonstrations in Melbourne and lending a sympathetic ear to anti-vaccine demonstrators
YouTuber Avi Yemini speaks with police during the anti-vaccination rally in Melbourne on Saturday
A Sydney demonstrator carried a ‘kill the bill’ sign, while others waved Australian flags.
United Australia Party leader and federal MP Craig Kelly is addressing the crowd at Martin Place after visiting a Melbourne protest last weekend.
Party founder and former senator Clive Palmer was scheduled to speak at the sister rally in Brisbane.
It comes after Queensland MP Brittany Lauga has contacted police after she and other members of state parliament received an email with ‘threats of terrorism, extremism and violence’.
‘I understand local doctors have been sent death threats and other threatening letters,’ she wrote on Twitter.
‘I unequivocally condemn these threats of violence, terrorism and extremism. This is not peaceful protest.’
A protester flips off a photographer as they join the march in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday
The size of the demonstration in Melbourne was matched in Sydney with thousands marching along the streets in the CBD
On Friday, key Victorian crossbench MP Andy Meddick revealed his daughter Kielan was also allegedly attacked on a Fitzroy street on Thursday night and suffered a head injury after being confronted by an unknown man for spray painting an anti-vax poster.
The incident drew condemnation from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Victorian parliament has been the site of ugly scenes this week as protesters occupied the front steps to demonstrate against the state’s proposed pandemic laws.
A crowd staged a mock execution of the premier using wooden gallows on Monday evening, while another demonstrator attended an earlier protest with three nooses in an apparent reference to crossbenchers who have supported the bill.
It has been reported figures associated with the neo-Nazi movement have joined the protests, prompting a call by a broad group of progressive activists and left-wing organisations to gather for counter rallies.
Another protester with a mock-up banner comparing Daniel Andrews to a rat as the march unfolded in Melbourne
Protester wearing a decorated mining hit and holding up a banner at the Melbourne rally
A marching band were among the thousands of protesters that rallied in Sydney
Police monitoring the demonstrators in Melbourne as the city was overrun by protesters
Organiser Nahui Jimenez said the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth were designed to draw public attention to the ‘growth of conspiratorial, anti-human and fascistic politics’.
‘Hostility to vaccines has become a gateway to the far-right globally,’ she said.
‘We will not allow fascist groups to propagate their bigotry and occupy our streets without resistance.’
Their Melbourne event is planned to take place close to the other protest, but Ms Jimenez said the group will not seek a confrontation as part of the push to ‘take back our city’.
One protester marching in Melbourne waves a sign that reads: ‘Freedom to choose without discrimination’
A demonstrator chants over the megaphone as the protesters march in Melbourne on Saturday
Demonstrators waving flags as they march in Sydney’s CBD to protest against the vaccine mandate
Victoria Police has warned residents to expect travel disruption in the CBD throughout the day, advising people to be patient, use public transport and allow extra time for their journey.
Protesters are planning to cause more chaos across Australia this weekend as part of a mass day of action against mandatory Covid vaccines.
Anti-vaccine demonstrators have circulated flyers on social media and encrypted messaging app Telegram calling for Australians to rally for a ‘Worldwide Rally For Freedom’ on Saturday at 12pm.
Protesters have listed a series of demands, including ending vaccine mandates, lockdown measures, ‘medical discrimination’ and ‘unlawful quarantine detention’.
Peaceful protestors disrupt the ‘freedom’ rally accusing the far-right of hijacking the demonstrations for their own cause
Thousands of demonstrators march down the street in Melbourne to protest against vaccine mandates and quarantine rules
Police form a line along Spring Street as they prepare to meet the protesters in Melbourne
The Sydney protest meanwhile promises a speech from controversial United Australia Party anti-vax MP Craig Kelly.
The protests have been organised online using the hashtags #FreeAustralia and #wewillallbethere.
The planned rallies come after thousands of angry protesters stormed the Melbourne CBD on Saturday to demonstrate against mandatory vaccinations and new laws set to be introduced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
The anti-government demonstrators marched through the city shouting ‘kill the bill’ last Saturday as they carried flags and provocative banners targeting the premier.
Families and young children were among the crowd, which included activists carrying a fake gallows and wearing horror movie masks.
One man’s sign depicted Andrews wearing a Nazi officer’s uniform and cap, another showed him as a gremlin and others simply displayed his face above words including ‘liar’ and ‘scum’.
‘Freedom’ protesters rallying against Covid vaccine mandates are planning their latest day of demonstrations across Australia on Saturday. Pictured: Anti-vaccine protesters in Melbourne in September
Flyers circulating on social media and encrypted messaging app Telegram are calling for Australians to rally for a ‘Worldwide Rally For Freedom’
Thousands of ‘pro-choice’ and anti-vax protesters marched in Melbourne on Saturday against mandatory vaccination and a proposed expansion of the premier’s powers
Organisers in Sydney promise a speech from controversial United Australia Party anti-vax MP Craig Kelly
The Adelaide protest flyer list a series of demands, including ending ‘vaccine mandates’, ‘medical discrimination’ and ‘unlawful quarantine detention’
Protesters within the crowd chanted ‘sack Dan Andrews’ as they headed for Victorian State Parliament.
At Parliament House on Spring Street, the crowd was confronted with a line of Victorian mounted police.
Many of the demonstrators claimed they were not anti-vax, just opposed to Victorians being forced to get vaccinated.
Many others appeared supportive of popular conspiracy theories too.
Some carried obvious anti-vax messages, others bore anarchy insignia, attacked major media in their signs.
‘Pro-choice’ protestors, including one in a horror movie mask, flooded Melbourne streets displaying protest banners and even a fake gallows to protest the Andrews government on Saturday
The huge crowd was in the thousands – estimated as much as 20,000 by rogue MP Craig Kelly, who gave a dramatic speech
One man, who wore an Akubra and the flag as a cape, proudly displayed an ‘Infowars’ t-shirt in reference to discredited American extremist Alex Jones.
The law the ‘kill the bill’ signs refers to would give the premier the power to make pandemic ‘declarations’ which could be extended by three-months at a time – for as long as he deemed necessary.
Many held signs, some of which read ‘coercion is not consent’ and ‘Dan is the virus’.
Other messages included ‘the ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves it children’.