Australia

Two men charged after allegedly striking police horses at Sydney anti-lockdown protest

Two men will face court in the wake of an anti-lockdown protest in central Sydney, accused among other offences of striking a police horse.

Fifty-seven people have already been charged and 90 infringement notices issued over Saturday’s protest, while a police strike force has been established to hunt down those who took part.

NSW Police on Sunday morning said officers were assaulted amid the unrest and police horses were struck and pushed.

A 33-year-old Surry Hills man was arrested late on Saturday night, as was a 36-year-old man from Edensor Park in Sydney’s southwest.

Both were charged with committing an act of cruelty upon an animal and failing to comply with public health orders, while the Edensor Park man was also charged with assaulting a police officer.

They will both appear in Parramatta Local Court on Sunday.

A special strike force of detectives is analysing footage from social media, CCTV and police-worn body cameras to identify and punish those who defied stay-at-home orders on Saturday.

Protesters march along Broadway during the World Wide Rally For Freedom anti-lockdown rally at Hyde Park in Sydney, Saturday, 24 July, 2021.

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Police Minister David Elliott condemned the thousands of “very selfish boofheads” who marched through the CBD.

“Police will be contacting people from tonight to have to answer for themselves and their behaviour, particularly the ringleaders,” he said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement she was “utterly disgusted” by those who had shown “utter contempt for their fellow citizens”.

“This type of activity during lockdown will not be tolerated and the full force of the law will be brought against anyone who engages in this type of illegal activity,” she said.

The thousands who joined the march between Sydney’s Victoria Park and Town Hall should also immediately get tested for COVID-19 for the benefit of their families and friends, Mr Elliott argued.

The protest occurred as daily case numbers in NSW rose to a new high for the year.

Some 163 cases were diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm on Friday, despite the government ratcheting up restrictions in the four weeks since Greater Sydney entered lockdown.

Protesters are arrested by the police at Sydney Town Hall during the ‘World Wide Rally For Freedom’ anti-lockdown rally at Hyde Park in Sydney, 24 July, 2021.

Protesters are arrested by the police at Sydney Town Hall during the ‘World Wide Rally For Freedom’ anti-lockdown rally at Hyde Park in Sydney, 24 July, 2021.

AAP

A number of police officers were injured as they were attacked by protesters, who threw plastic bottles and pot plants seized from the roadside.

Mr Elliott said police would crack down on protesters if they gathered again next weekend.

Police estimate 3,500 people joined in the rally.

Despite a heavy presence of mounted and riot officers, protesters broke through a police barrier to continue down George Street but were stopped at King Street.

In Melbourne, an anti-lockdown protest was also brought to a violent end by police.

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