Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said the actions of many protestors who gathered in Richmond yesterday – throwing projectiles, bottles, cans and rocks at police – was not protesting, but simply “criminal behaviour”.
“What we saw yesterday was just acts from criminals,” he said.
“They weren’t protest activities, they were criminal acts.”
“We can’t tolerate that.”
Mr Gatt said the perpetrators needed to be investigated and treated like any other criminals.
He said police had illogically become the “punching bag” for anger against the government and the pandemic, telling the protestors: “Wake up to yourselves”.
“You can’t explain what must be going on between the ears of some of those people.”
“(Protesting) doesn’t make the situation any better.”
Mr Gatt said he wasn’t “copping” any suggestion that police had been the drivers of the violent scenes.
“(Protestors) came to that demonstration with the intent to hurt our members.”
Hundreds of demonstrators – many of whom are not wearing masks – then gathered in the inner suburb of Richmond at about 12pm, in a move apparently designed to avoid police.
Police initially estimated between 6000 and 7000 would attend the anti-lockdown protests in the CBD but only about 500 to 700 protesters were there today.
Ten police officers were injured, with six taken to hospital.
The officers sustained a range of injuries including torn muscles, a broken elbow, a broken nose, a broken finger and bruising.
Police arrested 235 people, including 193 for breaching COVID-19 restrictions
Others were detained for other offences, including allegedly assaulting police as well as drug and weapons offences.