Sam Newman has been slapped down by Victoria Police mere hours after attempting to incite up to 250,000 Victorians to protest the state’s stage four lockdown laws.
The restrictions have been in place since August 2 and were initially slated to run for six weeks in a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus through Melbourne.
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There has been no indication that they will be extended beyond the Victorian government’s initial six-week estimate, but this didn’t prevent Newman from taking to social media in an attempt to convince Victorians to ‘take the city back’.
Newman’s threats were met with a stiff response from Victoria Police, who reportedly told 7News that they are planning to arrest several people allegedly planning to ‘incite illegal activity’ by planning the anti-lockdown protest.
Victoria Police did not name Newman as someone they planned to bring in, but said they would have ‘no hesitation’ to issue $1652 fines to people breaking lockdown restrictions on the weekend.
“Victoria Police is actively investigating those responsible for coordinating and encouraging protest activity on Saturday,” police told 7News.
“Victoria Police expects to make further arrests over coming days in respect to individuals suspected of inciting illegal activity.
“Organising and participating in this protest would be a serious and blatant breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions and jeopardises the health of the entire community.
“Those still thinking of attending the CBD to protest can expect a swift and firm response from police.”
Sam Newman behind latest protest push
Protesters opposing the lockdown clashed with police on Sunday in Melbourne during ugly scenes in Australia’s most hard-hit coronavirus city.
On the back of the protests, Newman made the call to action for up to 250,000 people protest.
Newman, who recently considered running for Lord Mayor of Melbourne, said it was time to ‘take the city back’.
“Of all the protests that we have put up with, how about 1/4 million of us gather in the CBD to take the City/State back, before EVERY previous march will have been pointless,” he wrote.
“And hopefully a State day of co-ordination. Any takers. #StateofSurvival”
But despite some support on social media, Newman was panned for such an “irresponsible” call when Victoria just had a huge surge in deaths from the virus.
“Completely irresponsible from Sam Newman, from someone who was until recently running for Melbourne mayor,” reporter Edwina Bartholomew said on Sunrise.
“If you want to guarantee you will be in lockdown for another six months, sure join the protest.”