Two men have been accused of animal cruelty for allegedly striking a police horse during anti-lockdown protests in Sydney, Australia on Saturday, police mentioned, as daily Covid-19 cases in New South Wales state continue to increase.
Thousands of people broke coronavirus measures and paraded through the center of Australia’s biggest city on Saturday; many unmasked and carrying banners with anti-vaccination messages, conflicting with police. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison narrated the protests as “reckless” and “selfish.” Clashes also took place in other major cities, including Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.
More than half of Australia’s population of 25 million people, comprising those in state capitals Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, are once again living under lockdown measures to pause an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant. Frustration is mounting over lockdowns and the country’s slow vaccine rollout.
On Sunday, New South Wales (NSW) police mentioned 63 people were arrested during the protests, and authorities have started an investigation to track down every participant.
Various fines have been issued for breaches of the health order, including 107 in the previous 24 hours that link back to Saturday’s protest, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller mentioned at a news conference on Monday. He also noted that the general public had made 10,000 reports to a criminal hotline, and investigators have recognized more than 200 people.
“We have a strike force established and they will continue to investigate and chase down every individual that we can identify will be either arrested or given tickets,” Fuller mentioned
Images and footage from the protests have popped up showing a police horse being pushed or hit by protesters. NSW mounted police then posted a photo to Facebook commenting one of their horses, named Tobruk, was uninjured and enjoying gifts of “carrots, apples, licorice, chocolate and bunches of flowers” donated by wellwishers.
“Our beautiful brave Tobruk safe and uninjured after his awful encounter today. Thank you again everyone for your words of support,” the NSW mounted police mentioned.
After the incident, a 33-year-old man was detained and charged with unlawful assembly, animal cruelty, and breaking Covid directives. Another man, 36, was accused of assaulting a police officer, cruelty to animals, and breaching Covid orders. Both men were refused bail, police mentioned.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejkilian mentioned she was “disgusted, disappointed and heartbroken” with the demonstrators, who had taken to the streets following four weeks of lockdown measures.
The NSW government has cautioned it will likely be forced to extend Sydney’s strict stay-at-home order after the stated July 30 end date. Asked if the mass protest could lead to an extended lockdown, Berejkilian mentioned, “I hope it won’t be a setback but it could be.”
“Events like that can cause super spreader events,” she mentioned.
Prime Minister Morrison mentioned on Sunday, “People understand there are frustrations with lockdowns. But that type of behavior doesn’t help anybody. Selfish behavior doesn’t help anybody.”