WATCH: Chaos Down Under as Anti-Lockdown Protesters Clash With Riot Police in Melbourne

Demonstrators kick a police car during a protest against Covid-19 regulations in Melbourne on September 21, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
STR/AFP via Getty Images

The streets of Melbourne were plunged into chaos once again on Tuesday as anti-lockdown protesters clashed with riot police, forcing police vehicles to retreat as they smashed windows and hurled makeshift missiles.

Thousands of people defied the government’s stay at home orders to demonstrate against the increasingly authoritarian coronavirus restrictions in the Australian state of Victoria.

In footage shared on social media, police were seen fleeing the scene as protesters dressed in construction worker garb chased them away. A line of police in riot gear was then seeing firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds.

The protesters released a series of demands, including an end to lockdowns, emergency government powers, mask and vaccine mandates, and the removal of vaccine passports, the Daily Mail reported.

The group also called for the leaders of Victoria’s virus response team to resign, the prosecution of police officers who attacked “peaceful protesters”, and the reopening of construction sites.

In a statement, Victorian Police said: “As the afternoon progressed the crowd grew increasingly hostile, specialist units attended the scene and crowd control equipment was deployed.

“Specialist units have gathered evidence to identify offences and as many of those in attendance as possible. Victoria Police will not tolerate this sort of activity and all those identified will be fined for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions.”

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said that the use of pepper spray and rubber bullets was justified “because we can’t allow this kind of conduct to go on.”

The commissioner said that police have made 44 arrests, however, he expected that number to grow.

A two-week shutdown of construction sites in the state was announced on Monday after members of the influential Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), targeted a local union office in Melbourne, throwing bottles and other projectiles at the building in response to vaccine mandates for construction sites.

The local government in Victoria said that it shut down the industry for two weeks as a result of outbreaks of the virus tied to the construction business, citing a failure to abide by restrictions.

“We put the industry on notice just a week ago, we have seen appalling behaviour on site and on our streets, and now we’re acting decisively and without hesitation,” Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said in a statement on Monday.

After the introduction of another lockdown amid 500 cases of the Delta variant in the entire state of Victoria, which has a population of 6.7 million, lockdown posters squared off with police on Saturday. The crowds broke through the police line, leaving six officers injured.

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