In response to the massive anti-lockdown protest that shook the Sydney CBD on 24 February, the NSW Police Force turned the Sydney’s central business district and sizable areas around it into a no-go zone over the last weekend.
On the Saturday morning prior to the enforced exclusion zone, an estimated 7,000 anti-lockdowners converged at Victoria Park on the edge of the city and proceeded to march up Broadway and along George Street, with their destination being Sydney Town Hall.
The crowd that blatantly breached COVID stay-at-home orders – risking $1,000 fines or arrest – was made up of divergent groups.
There were large numbers of citizens from the southwest reeling against the enhanced lockdown they’ve been subjected to, and then there were those who believe the entire pandemic is a global hoax designed by corrupt governments in order to enhance their control of populations.
Part of a global “freedom” day, the magnitude of the protest spooked authorities to the point that it seemed necessary to shut down the entire city and its surrounds. And whilst this worked in preventing a repeat rally last weekend, there are still plans afoot for more in the coming weeks.
Burgeoning police state
There were more than 1,300 police officers deployed to the Sydney city region over the weekend. This saw general duties officers, the now all-pervasive mounted police, the dog unit, the public order and riot squad and traffic cops stationed throughout the nation’s largest urban centre.
Taxis, rideshare and passenger services were all barred from entering the city centre between 9 am to 1.30 pm.
Whilst the boundaries of the exclusion zone were set at Lilyfield City West Link, South Darling Street in Zetland, New South Head Road in Edgecliff and the Bradfield Highway in Milsons Point.
Roadblocks were set up along major road arteries into the city, with drivers subjected to checks.
NSW police reports that eight people were arrested on the first day of the operation, along with more than 250 penalty infringement notices being handed out to citizens who continued to breach the requirements of Public Health (COVID-19 Gathering Restrictions) Order (No 2) 2021.
Car convoy protest shutdown
While the so-called freedom marchers stayed out of the city for the most part, a union-led car convoy protest did assemble in the CBD on Sunday to stage a demonstration calling for increased income support for workers who’ve been stood down during the current lockdown.
Involving around 50 people in cars and on bikes, the rally was instigated by United Workers Union members who have recently lost their employment at the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre.
The demonstration was set to weave its way through the city streets to converge upon Liberal Party headquarters.
The COVID safe rally, which involved household members in vehicles adhering to the mask mandate, was promptly shut down by NSW police. And nine of those taking part were issued with steep pandemic fines.
As for the Sydney no-go zone, NSW police has warned of similar such actions, just as the anti-lockdowners have vowed to continue with theirs.