The Australian state of New South Wales has issued extreme crackdowns on the online organizing of protests in the region, and have now arrested over 150 people for organizing or attending 79 separate anti-lockdown protests. Most of the protests are said to be organized on social media.
On Tuesday, at least 79 anti-lockdown protests were recorded in the state of New South Wales.
Later in the day, the NSW Police said that they had arrested 153 people. Many of the arrested individuals were later released after they had been issued with infringement notices. Others were charged with offenses like resisting arrest, assaulting the police, refusing to obey a police direction, and breaching public health orders.
The protests appear to have been organized through social media. A call to arms published on Facebook groups read: “Anzacs, on some level you know the time to stand has come.”
(Anzac is the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.)
“Tuesday 31st August, beginning 9 am. Please be upstanding. Every local council chamber, every state parliament house, the home of every State Governor, the Federal Parliament Canberra, the home of the Governor-general Canberra.
“We front up. We stand up, We deal to it. Enough is Enough!”
The police said they respect free speech and then threw in a “but.”
“Today’s actions only further serve to jeopardize the freedoms of those people who are doing the right thing,” NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are very comfortable for people to exercise free speech, but when that’s done in contravention of the public health order, putting the rest of the public’s safety in jeopardy, police will not tolerate it.”
The Deputy Commissioner is currently facing a parliamentary inquiry for his drunken behavior and being aggressive towards paramedics when being found drunk.