Anti-lockdown protestors have wrongly accused a police officer of pepper-spraying an elderly woman during a rally in Melbourne – even though he was at home looking after his newborn.
Demonstrators were outraged after footage showed two officers deploying pepper spray at a woman during violent protests in Richmond on Saturday.
Online vigilantes took to Twitter claiming they had found one of the officers filmed in the altercation. Social media users were quick to bombard the man with hate messages and abuse.
‘Granny basher. I hope you apologised to her after her hip surgery and brain scan,’ one person wrote. ‘You rascal.’
Another person added: ‘Should be immediately fired’.
Anti-lockdown protestors have wrongly accused a police officer of pepper-spraying an elderly woman during a rally in Melbourne – even though he was at home looking after his newborn
Demonstrators were left outraged after footage showed two officers deploying pepper spray at a woman during violent protests in Richmond, Melbourne, on Saturday
Victoria Police was prompted to issue a statement saying the wrong police officer had been identified.
‘These posts are incorrect,’ a spokesperson said. ‘The member named was not on duty on Saturday and had nothing to do with the incident which has been referred to professional standards command for investigation.’
The man seemingly identified is understood to have been at home caring for his newborn. Victoria Police said they were investigating the officers who were captured in the video.
‘The incident circulating on social media has been referred to Professional Standards Command and will be investigated,’ a spokesperson said.
Hundreds of anti-lockdown demonstrators took to the streets in Melbourne on Saturday, sparking violent confrontations with police that resulted in 235 arrests and 10 injured officers.
Fears have been raised that demonstrators are already planning for the next rally and communicating with each other via encrypted messaging apps.
Some members have suggested withholding the location of the protest until the last minute – to throw police off their guard, The Herald Sun reported.
‘Drop location one hour before meet up on the designated day as to not give cops time to prepare,’ one person wrote.
There are at least 8,000 members in one of the group chats with one warning they will not be silenced.
‘Footscray. Dandenong. Highpoint Shopping Centre. Chadstone Shopping Centre. Whatever. We will be heard wherever we go,’ they wrote.
Hundreds of anti-lockdown demonstrators took to the streets in Melbourne on Saturday, sparking violent confrontations with police
A woman, reported to be in her 70s was knocked to the ground during the violent clashes between protesters and police in Melbourne
Demonstrators were slammed by most Victorians for breaking the city’s sixth lockdown, and Victorian Police commander Mark Galliott said the protest was just ‘angry, aggressive young males there to fight the police’.
But there was also anger towards police accused of using excessive force, particularly involving footage of an elderly woman.
The footage shows the woman wearing a wig with an Australian flag draped around her being knocked to the ground by officers.
The woman, reportedly in her 70s, lay injured on the ground and shielded her face while being doused with pepper spray by two officers standing over her.
She is seen wincing and writhing in pain as officers eventually help her to her feet.
While viewers agreed the actions of some protestors in Saturday weren’t necessary, they believe police used excessive force.
‘This country is turning to s**t very quickly…and it’s not because of the virus,’ host of The Primodcast posted.
‘It’s because of incompetent state governments and big pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of the situation to make a s*** tonne of money.’
Others called for the officers involved to be charged.
‘Sue every bloody one of these little animals who call themselves police. How would they like it, if it was their grandmother, mum, aunty, sister, niece or cousin,’ one wrote.
But not everyone was on the protester’s side.
‘If you feel danger, then stay home simple as that. Our freedom of choice is too important to let anyone talk us out of it,’ one wrote.
You are putting your own freedom at risk by blindly doing what other people tell you to do.’
One woman added: ‘You say she is not a danger, well actually she is a danger by just breathing on someone. Haven’t you noticed that we are in a global pandemic. Selfish people.’
Others called for footage leading up to the incident to be shared.
The injured protester is seen writhing in pain as she’s helped to her feet by police
Demonstrators were blocked from marching further by a wall of police along Burnley Street in Richmond
An anti-lockdown protestor screams at police on Burnely Street in Richmond on Saturday
Police made 235 arrests on Saturday, most for breaching health directions while some were charged with assault, riotous behaviour and weapons and drug offences.
Those arrested will be fined $5,452 each, with 193 infringements handed out so far.
Police officers suffered injuries including a broken elbow and broken nose, a broken finger and torn muscles. Six officers were taken to hospital.
‘Police were subject to violent, hostile and aggressive behaviour,’ a Victoria Police statement read.
‘Numerous officers were assaulted while others had projectiles including glass bottles hurled in their direction.
‘It was extremely disappointing to see another example of a small minority of the community showing a complete disregard for the health and safety of not only police, but each and every other Victorian.’
Police investigations into Saturday’s protests are continuing.
While many viewers called for the officers who doused the woman with pepper spray to be punished, others said demonstrators should have stayed at home