Police promise ‘swift and firm’ response to CBD anti-lockdown protest

More arrests are expected in the lead-up to an anti-lockdown march planned for the weekend, with police "actively investigating" a number of organisers suspected of inciting illegal protest activity.

Police have warned people planning to turn up the protest, due to take place in the CBD on Saturday afternoon, that they could be fined or arrested for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Police detain then release a man near the George Andrews Reserve, Dandenong last week. Credit:Joe Armao

"Victoria Police expects to make further arrests over coming days in respect to individuals suspected of inciting illegal activity," a spokeswoman said.

"Organising and participating in this protest would be a serious and blatant breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions and jeopardises the health of the entire community."

"Those still thinking of attending the CBD to protest can expect a swift and firm response from police."

Saturday's protest appears to have been organised by several online communities who are calling for an end to Victoria's lockdown.

A 76-year-old man from Windsor was arrested on Friday and charged with incitement for allegedly helping to organise the protest.

An event page for the protest attracted the interest of thousands before it was blocked by Facebook. Those trying to access it in Australia receive the message: "You're unable to view this content because local laws restrict our ability to show it."

A Facebook spokeswoman said content which is flagged as inappropriate is reviewed by the social media giant and can be restricted.

"We review content reported to us against our policies on harmful misinformation linked to COVID-19, and take action on it where appropriate," she said.

Victorian Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt.Credit:Paul Rovere

"It's selfish behaviour," he said.

"Every time our members are exposed to people like this there is a high risk they will be exposed to coronavirus themselves. That's the single greatest risk our members confront at this point in time.

"I've got officers who have spent weeks in quarantine, who have missed the birth of their children, who have not been able to hug their kids for weeks because they have been in hotels because they don't want to transmit the virus to their families. This is because they've had short-term contact with people who haven't worn masks, who haven't done the right thing, who are simply coming out and flaunting the rules."

Three men were arrested on Sunday, after clashes between police and anti-lockdown protesters in Broadmeadows, in Melbourne's northern suburbs, and five fines were issued during a prohibited gathering near the George Andrews Reserve in Dandenong.

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