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VicPol union: Why didn’t riot squad tackle lockdown protest ‘criminals’?

lockdown protests
The illegal protest march saw appalling injuries inflicted on police. Photo: Getty
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The police union will ask Victoria Police why the riot squad was not deployed to a violent anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne that left several officers in hospital.

Between 500 and 700 demonstrators gathered in Richmond about midday on Saturday, after the location of the protest was changed from Melbourne city centre at the last minute in an attempt to evade authorities.

At one stage, dozens of people ran at police in a clash that saw officers knocked to the ground and protesters doused with capsicum spray.

Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt described the rally as “horrific” and said 10 police were injured with six taken to hospital.

On standby nearby

“Significant violence confronted those individuals, we had bottles thrown at their faces; projectiles and rocks. This group came to assault the police,” he told 3AW.

“There’s a range of injuries from dislocated shoulders, torn pectorals, broken bones (and) noses.”

Mr Gatt said the riot squad was not deployed to help uniformed officers in Richmond, despite being in the city on standby.

“They are discussions that we will have with Victoria Police,” he said.

“We’ll do work in the coming days and during the coming hours just to work out what happened and why those decisions were taken, because the last thing we want is our members to go home with serious injuries.”

He said the chief commissioner’s decision to shut down public transport on Saturday was the right one.

Protests attendance suppressed

“Had he not taken that decision, our members would have been confronted with thousands upon thousands of protesters, and those scenes would have been amplified,” Mr Gatt said.

Asked about a video circulating on social media appearing to show police pushing over an elderly woman and pepper-spraying her while she lay on the road, he said he had not yet seen the vision.

“I can’t comment on it specifically. I’m not going to allow my members to be criticised for the actions of these criminals yesterday, they did the best they could,” he said.

-AAP