Football fans and Friday night revellers have been warned to expect disruption as climate-change protesters swarm Melbourne’s CBD on Friday afternoon.
Police are expecting up to 10,000 people to join the protest, and have put activists, and anyone who might challenge them, on notice.
Victorian Police north-west metro commander Tim Hansen said plenty of officers would patrol on foot and on horses, and prison and brawler vans would be at the ready.
“We urge everyone to make plans to get out of the city as quick as they can,” he said.
The protest, organised by activist group Extinction Rebellion, will start at the State Library about 5pm on Friday. It will move throughout the city until about 7pm – although police are not sure of the exact route that is planned.
The protest comes as a blockbuster qualifying AFL final between Geelong and Collingwood is set to draw thousands to the MCG on Friday night. It starts at 7.50pm.
It is also expected to disrupt public transport. Tram operator Yarra Trams has urged people to allow extra time for journeys, and consider using the city’s trains instead.
Police will be spread across the CBD tonight for the climate change protest.
Posted by Victoria Police on Thursday, September 5, 2019
Commander Hansen said police had spoken with rally organisers and respected their right to protest peacefully.
However, public safety would not be put in jeopardy, he said.
Extinction Rebellion has been behind several protests that have disrupted peak-hour commuters in Brisbane in recent months.
In May, the same group staged a two-hour Friday afternoon “die-in” in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
The group wants the federal government to declare a climate and ecological emergency and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025.