The security systems that took control of Melbourne’s central park on Tuesday afternoon have been revealed and they are one of the more extreme plans proposed to ensure the safety of freedom-loving protesters.

Three wheelie bins were used to push protesters back from the Leichhardt Oval, at 10am on Tuesday. When the bins were eventually lowered, however, a row of anti-lockdown protesters with no metal bars and other noxious dust were pushed around on horses and then handcuffed.

While the protesters protested peacefully for a short time, the disruption to their planned encampment was all too apparent.


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Link The Melbourne CBD was closed due to people resisting police trying to prevent them from talking to a horse at Leichhardt park. Photo: Andrea Niemiec

Two of the protesters who had been sent to the police station on Tuesday afternoon said they had been forced to climb over barricades trying to get into the park. They said police had also refused to allow them to speak to a horse dressed in an orange kit.

More than a dozen police officers have been deployed to oversee the demonstrators, with many of them having the horses stand guard as they try to get access to the park.


Yesterday, police spoke of peaceful protesters going about their business amid a heavy downpour. However, a group of protesters moved out of the park after receiving verbal abuse from police.

Victoria Police posted pictures of police carrying the horses away from Leichhardt Park last year, saying: “On the back of a horse they are big powerful and they do not back down quickly.”


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Link Anti-lockdown protesters at Leichhardt Park. Photo: Andrea Niemiec

While the anti-lockdown protesters have had permission from the park’s reserve committee to return, they have raised concerns about the site being used as a “police base” for 30 days if they are not relocated.

The protest was seen by some as a symbolic response to a police ban on speaking to police officers and not just peaceful protesters.


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Link A protester stands on horseback at Leichhardt park after police failed to allow them to get to the park. Photo: Andrea Niemiec

The Save Our Macquarie Park protesters believe the horse version of the control system would remove their “criminals” from the park.

The horse version of the control system. Photo: Andrea Niemiec

Fearing mass vandalism and animal cruelty should they still remain in the park, they also want an alternative to a horse invasion of the area.

Outside the Leichhardt Reserve Reserve yesterday, four protesters sat on an elevated stage. One mackintosh jumper was propped up against a campervan and another protester wearing nothing but a pair of white pyjamas sat with a guitar nearby.

After the anti-lockdown protest had taken place, a group of protesters waited at the step of a fence in the strategic park. They watched what happened next.

“It didn’t happen that fast,” one protester, Sian Murtagh, said. “The police were very rude, and disrespectful to the public, so they grabbed them, got them off and away they went.”

The protesters said many locals did not know the fence was there, and that officers had been rude to some of them. One protester said police demanded her at gunpoint to talk to a horse.

Riot police had a wild moment as protestors, carrying large plastic horse whisperers, barricaded the Leichhardt District Sports oval earlier on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Quilty

The protesters who returned to the park to protest on Tuesday said they had not been ordered to leave.

“Police have a reason to occupy Leichhardt and this wasn’t one of them,” Ms Murtagh said.

On Wednesday, as the road closures started, thick clouds of smoke began to fill the CBD.

A number of young men in masks stood watch in cafes and on banks across the city.

“It’s very bad,” one yelled.

“It’s terrifying,” said a fourth.

“It’s the end of the world,” a third said.

As the road closures continued throughout the afternoon, protesters went to the Merriwa Square, Woonona Barracks and then back to Leichhardt.

Staff Reporter Angela McGuinness contributed to this report.