Melbourne Police Clash with East West Link Protesters

Police have clashed with protesters blocking a test drilling site for the controversial East West Link road project in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy.

5160722-3x2-700x467About 50 protesters linked arms to keep workers away from the site chanting “no tunnel, no way, we’re going to fight this all the way.” Police initially tried to appeal to the protesters to move through a loud speaker. Then they massed at one end of the line of protesters and moved in, roughly tearing them away from the line and dragging them off.

Some of the protesters yelled “stop you’re hurting people.” Several officers were knocked to the ground in the scuffles and some protesters were led away in tears. Others chanted “this is a peaceful protest.”

In response, police officers chanted “move, move.” Order has now been restored but about 150 protestors remain with arms linked at the site.

A woman has managed to climb on top of the drilling equipment. One protester, Brendan, was held to the ground by police and has been charged with assaulting a police officer.

Peter Anderson, lives in Westgarth Street, says residents were never told their street would be closed to make way for the drilling equipment. “There had been no information provided to residents and I thought it was a pretty sneaky tactic,” he said. “I think it’s really unfortunate that we’ve hit a point where the police are being used politically and I think it’s a really bad state of affairs.” It is the second day protesters massed at the corner of Brunswick and Westgarth Streets. They blocked cars and trams causing traffic chaos.

Just last week police set up a special unit set up a special incident management team to respond to the East West Link protests.

The East West link is an 18 kilometre cross-city road and tunnel project that will link the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road.

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