ORGANISERS of a 'freedom rally' held at Newcastle's Foreshore Park on Saturday say they are concerned about COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, and fear compulsory vaccinations.
People holding placards calling for 'freedom' listened to several speakers address a crowd of 200-plus people at the foreshore about noon on Saturday, joined later by others who had also gathered at Bar Beach.
COVID vaccination NSW
The authorised Newcastle rally was peaceful, police and organisers said, and those in attendance maintained social distancing requirements.
"We knew that there was a wider movement and that there was something organised in all of the capital cities and places like Coffs Harbour and thought there were enough people in this community who would want to come together," one of the organisers, Deanne, told the Newcastle Herald.
"We had a lot of people stop and listen and clap. We are not here to cause problems. We are just a group of nice mums and grandmas and people who are just concerned about our loss of freedom."
In Newcastle a second group of 'concerned citizens' gathered to take 'A Stand in the Park' at Hamilton's Gregson Park on Sunday morning. A flyer advertising the gathering, as well as gatherings simultaneously in a range of other locations including Toronto and several on the Central Coast, as well as Sydney's Hyde Park, encouraged people to make "a stand for freedom".
"It's time to stand up; It's now or never; If not us, then who?; If not now, then when?" the flyer reads.
It said the group was calling for no lockdowns, railing against QR codes, masks, business closures and calls for "No new normal". But organisers and others at Gregson Park on Sunday distanced themselves from any flyers or from identifying themselves with any particular groups or views. Others took to sharing their views illegally, spray painting messages like "We are the lab rats' and 'Invermectin is the cure' over the canvas walls of the drive-through COVID centre at Gateshead, which police are investigating.
But the Hunter's activities were worlds apart from the protest held in Sydney which turned violent and led to a number of arrests.
Two men were charged with striking a police horse.
A 33-year-old Surry Hills man who was charged with affray, join or continue in unlawful assembly, commit an act of cruelty upon an animal, and not comply with a COVID-19 direction. A second man, 36, from Edensor Park, was charged with assault officer in execution of duty, commit an act of cruelty upon an animal, and not comply with a COVID-19 direction. Police are working to identify others involved in the protest and further arrests are expected.
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