Hundreds of protesters have converged on Melbourne’s most famous war memorial, with many heard chanting “lest we forget”, as protests continue in the city for a third day in a row.
A large crowd marched to the Shrine of Remembrance just after 1pm after protesters marched throughout the streets of the CBD for hours this morning.
The group was seen moving up the walkway to the shrine chanting “lest we forget”, the phrase commonly used to pay tribute to fallen servicemen and women.
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Large numbers of police hurried to relocate from the CFMEU headquarters in the CBD to the shrine.
Police converged on the walkway to the shrine as hundreds of protesters sat on the shrine’s steps and on nearby lawns chanting “freedom” and “every day”.
Protesters on the steps to the shrine are holding up a large banner that reads, “End Lockdown NOW. Dan-made Disaster!!!”
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— Adam Hegarty (@ajhegarty9) September 22, 2021
The protests, which began on Monday, were originally said to be about the Victorian Government mandating COVID-19 vaccines for construction workers.
Screaming protesters then moved from the stairs of the shrine and rushed towards waiting police, chanting “stand with us” and “walk with us” at officers.
Some protesters took a knee while asking police to join them.
Police then circled protesters at the shrine, with officers forming a ring around the crowd of hundreds.
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It appeared to be the first time today the protesters had been completely surrounded.
Protesters have been heard chanting “we want peace”.
The standoff continues.
A Melbourne Returned Services League Sub Branch has already taken to Twitter to condemn the shrine being involved in the protest, saying, “The Shrine of Remembrance is not a place for protest”.
“We gather there to remember with respect and dignity and it is not appropriate to use this hallowed location for any protest,” Hawthorn RSL Sub Branch said.
The Shrine of Remembrance is not a place for protest.
It is a sacred place for Australians to commemorate those who fought and died for us.
We gather there to remember with respect and dignity and It is not appropriate to use this hallowed location for any protest. pic.twitter.com/gzXUpvAeRi
— Hawthorn RSL Sub Branch (@HawthornRsl) September 22, 2021
Returned Services League Victoria has also issued a statement, saying, “The Shrine of Remembrance is sacred”.
“Under no circumstances, ever, should the Shrine be a place of protest,” the statement reads.
“If any individuals or groups choose to express their political views, positions or ideological theories in the grounds or the Shrine at any time, they are completely disrespecting the sanctity this time-honoured space, those men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have lost their lives, and all Victorian veterans.”
The protest comes after violent scenes erupted in Melbourne CBD on Monday and yesterday.
Crowds were unable to gather at the shrine for Remembrance Day last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.Internet Explorer Channel Network