Elderly woman 'pepper sprayed': Police investigate protest footage

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A confronting incident between a Melbourne protester and a police officer is under investigation, as video of the incident goes viral on social media.

On Saturday, Victoria Police and anti-lockdown protesters violently clashed in Richmond, after the location of the protest was changed rom Melbourne's city centre in an attempt to evade authorities.

In a video which was shared online, police move towards a group of protesters, with one police officer pushing a protester to the ground and spraying them with capsicum spray.

It has been reported by various news outlets the protester was an elderly woman.

A woman was allegedly pushed to the ground by a police officer and sprayed with capsicum spray. Source: ABC
A woman was allegedly pushed to the ground by a police officer and sprayed with capsicum spray. Source: ABC

The Age reported its accredited photographer Luis Ascui, pictured above in the white shirt, was close to the woman and he too was hit with capsicum spray that impaired his vision for a couple of hours.

The Age editor Gay Alcorn said a formal complaint to Victoria Police would be lodged.

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson for Victoria Police confirmed police were aware of the video which was shared to social media.

"Police anticipated a highly volatile situation on the weekend and had strongly urged people to refrain from participating in protest activity," the spokesperson said in the statement. 

"Despite warnings an estimated 700 people protested in clear breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions. 

"The incident circulating on social media has been referred to Professional Standards Command and will be investigated."

Police injured in violent clashes with protesters

Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt described the rally as "horrific" and said 10 police were injured, including six who were taken to hospital.

"Significant violence confronted those individuals, we had bottles thrown at their faces; projectiles and rocks. This group came to assault the police," he told 3AW radio on Sunday.

"There's a range of injuries from dislocated shoulders, torn pectorals, broken bones (and) noses."

When asked about the video of the incident between the police officer and the woman, Mr Gratt said he had not seen it and could not comment on it specifically.

"I can't comment on it specifically. I'm not going to allow my members to be criticised for the actions of these criminals yesterday, they did the best they could," he said.

More than 200 people were arrested by police during the protest, which defied stay-at-home orders. Police estimated around 500 to 600 people participated in the protest.

While protesters began to emerge throughout the morning, their efforts were smothered by the police presence.

Police watch protesters on the road below at Richmond.
Police said they were subject to "violent, hostile and aggressive behaviour" by protesters at Richmond in Melbourne. Source: AAP

However, the largest group of demonstrators walked along the streets of Richmond and as far as Burnley, before police dispersed the crowds.

Police said they were subject to "violent, hostile and aggressive behaviour".

'Numerous officers were assaulted while others had projectiles including glass bottles hurled in their direction," Victoria Police said in a statement. 

"A particularly vulgar incident occurred when a violent crowd rushed police in Barkers Road, Kew, with multiple officers knocked to the ground and trampled.

With AAP

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