Reports today that activists attending this Saturday’s protest have threatened Victoria Police with spitting, inflammatory chanting and other forms of physical abuse is a concerning escalation of the risk of this event to community health and safety.
These reports of violent threats follow pleas from Victoria Police to have the event rescheduled and a clear warning from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer that “this protest carries real risks for all Victorians, particularly those in vulnerable groups”.
With organisers claiming up to 80,000 people could attend this weekend’s protest – this event is the single largest threat to community safety since COVID-19 restrictions came into force and now threatens to descend into the violent protests recently seen in the US and around the world.
Earlier this week, Daniel Andrews told Victorians “if it’s not peaceful, then it is not a protest” and with direct threats now made to members of Victoria Police, the Premier must back up these words and act to have this protest postponed.
While respecting the Black Lives Matter cause, Victoria is in a State of Emergency. The timing of this protest is wrong and Victorians should never accept violent, unlawful gatherings that place the health and safety of frontline police and the Victorian public at risk.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Police and Community Safety, David Southwick:
“With threats of violence and physical abuse and the safety of all Victorians compromised, Daniel Andrews has no choice but to use his State of Emergency powers and shut down the planned protest.
“Victorians understand the passion behind this issue, but we must never tolerate violent, unlawful gatherings that place the health and safety of the community at risk.”