Melbourne protesters march down city streets lighting flares, fireworks

© Nine Protesters were chanting

Hundreds of riled-up protesters are rallying through Melbourne CBD streets after being warned to “leave now or force may be used”.

Vision captured from the scene shows protesters storming down city streets, chanting while lighting orange flares and fireworks.

The protesters have descended upon Spring Street, coming to a stop outside Parliament House where a wall of riot squad police manned the entrance.

The riot squad swarmed the city after a tense stand-off between officers and angry construction protesters occurred this morning.

As of 10am, about 150 people had gathered at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Parade, some chanting “f— the jab”, in protest of the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for construction workers.

© Nine Flares have been lit as protesters swarm Melbourne CBD.
© Nine Police are attempting to keep up with the angry mob of protesters.

Dozens of police formed multiples lines down Elizabeth Street barricading the CFMEU’s office in readiness to stop the protest from getting out of control and prevent the violent scenes that occurred yesterday.

Heavily armed police with gas masks arrived and officers blared messages over a speaker, warning protesters to “leave now or force may be used”.

“We’ll send this city broke, we’ll tear it down,” one protester yelled in response.

© Nine Riot Squad police have arrived in Melbourne CBD to control rowdy protesters.
© Nine Riot squad police in Melbourne CBD work to control construction protests.

Police mounted on horseback moved towards the protesters as they chanted “freedom”.

The protesters have vowed to continue the demonstrations until their list of demands is met, including axing mandatory vaccinations.

Riot police were forced to disperse hundreds of riled-up construction workers yesterday, who were brawling and throwing bottles at the glass entrance for about seven hours.

It comes as the Victorian Government announced that construction workers needed to have one vaccine dose in order to work from Friday.

Aerial view of dozens of protesters in Melbourne CBD. Some protesters held ‘freedom’ signs as they rallied through Melbourne CBD. More than 100 construction workers have turned up to protest in Melbourne CBD.

The violent protest held outside the union headquarters was heavily infiltrated with “rent-a-crowd” protesters and neo-Nazis, union boss John Setka has claimed.

Speaking to Today, the CFMEU leader said he attempted to calm the riled-up mob but the environment turned hostile.

“You couldn’t even talk – we tried to keep it all calm, and it just got out of control,” Mr Setka said.

“People started throwing bottles. Some of them were fighting amongst themselves.

“You know, once they started throwing the bottles, that was it – we just said this is too dangerous, let’s move back in.

“It just got out of control from there.”

© Nine CFMEU union boss John Setka has slammed the mob of protesters for violently protesting outside his office.
© Nine Construction workers protest outside the office of the CFMEU against mandatory vaccines in the construction industry.

A number of protesters were arrested.

Mr Setka has claimed the majority of the protesters were not construction workers.

“There was a sprinkling of construction workers there, of our members, and the rest were just people, I wouldn’t even know who they are,” he said.

“All the rent-a-crowds were there, professional protesters.

“A few of them anti-vaxxer activists were there – who are not union members, they’re not from our industry – and they’re the ones you see at all the protests.

“Thanks to these morons, 300,000 Victorians are sitting at home for at least the next couple of weeks, it could drag out even longer.”

The $22 billion Victorian construction industry has been shut down for at least two weeks in response to the violent protest and “widespread non-compliance” with COVID-19 restrictions, as transmission continues to rip through the sector.

Treasurer Tim Pallas confirmed the shutdown last night, about two hours before it came into force at 11.59pm.

© Nine Protest outside the CFMEU office.

Federal Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten told Today he had been informed the crowd was made up of “fake tradies” and “professional trouble-makers”.

“They’d been down to the Reject Shop and got themselves a $2 high-vis so they could pretend they were construction,” he said.

“This is all because the construction unions have been running radio ads, have been encouraging people to get vaccinated and that doesn’t suit the hard right or the extremist agenda of some trouble-makers.

“It was shocking violence against people who’ve been showing leadership in the construction industry.”

© Getty Riot police were called in to disperse the angry protesters.

Mr Shorten said there was a network of “man-baby Nazis” who wanted to stir trouble.

“I never thought I’d see a scene where you have people who call themselves Nazis using encrypted message systems to bring in rent-a-crowd,” he said.

“There is a network of hard-right man-baby Nazis, just people who just want to cause trouble, these man-babies, they want to complain about the vaccination, and – they deserve to get the full force of everything that’s coming their way.”

© Nine Police have formed a line to barricade angry protesters in Melbourne CBD.

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