The Victoria Police Union says it fears its members have “become the punching bags” for frustrated Victorians on lockdown looking for a target.

Ten officers were injured and six were taken to hospital after hundreds of protesters in violent anti-containment protests attacked police on Saturday.

This morning Victoria Police said all members were discharged from the hospital.

Bottles and stones were thrown at some officers, while Commander Mark Galliott said others were trampled on, suffering from broken bones and serious facial injuries, including a broken nose.

Lines of officers attempted to control the protesters and repeatedly used capsicum spray.

Police made more than 230 arrests during the protests.(

PAA: James Ross

)

Police Association Victoria Secretary Wayne Gatt said Saturday’s events were not legitimate protests.

“It is absolutely shameful. What we saw yesterday were just acts of criminals. They were not protest activities, they were criminal acts,” Gatt said.

“We cannot stand this, we cannot tolerate this and it has to stop.”

Victoria Police had taken the extraordinary decision to temporarily shut down public transport in the CBD in an effort to prevent thousands of people from gathering and creating a COVID-19 superspreader event.

But anti-containment protesters met with police around noon in Richmond, with officers making more than 230 arrests.

Police estimate that between 500 and 700 protesters marched through the streets of Richmond during the protest.

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Anti-containment protesters on the streets of Melbourne

Mr Gatt said police officers yesterday became the scapegoats for the assault initially directed against the state government over its COVID restrictions.

“The police have become the physical target of this violence, but they are not the ideological target. Governments are the ideological target, but it is our members who become the punch bags for it,” he said. .

Mr Gatt said that while Victoria Police have achieved their goal of preventing people from entering the city, there are elements of the operation that could have been better executed to keep officers safe.

“This is something that we struggle with and it is something that will challenge us, and in the days and hours to come we will be talking with Victoria Police on how we can do things better for make sure this is not the result of a future demonstration of protesters activity, ”he said.

“When you have situations where a large number of limbs have been injured, you have a duty to look at that.”

Union defends the use of force by officers against demonstrators

Videos circulated on social media showing a woman being sprayed with capsicum spray after being pushed to the ground by an officer, raising questions as to whether all officers used proportionate force.

Mr. Gatt vehemently rejected suggestions that the force used was not justified.

“I do not deprive myself of it at all. They came to this demonstration with the intention of injuring our members, they succeeded against 10 of them,” he said.

“These actions would not have taken place if these people had not attended an illegal demonstration.”

Mr Gatt said the proportion of the police response was not up to a moral debate.

“They [the protesters] have to look at each other, we have to stop whining around these people. We have to stop this unnecessary debate on the issues of proportionality of what is good and what is not, “he said.

The large mobilization of around 2,000 police officers during yesterday’s demonstrations should have a knock-on effect on the availability of personnel in the weeks to come.

Mr Gatt urged Victorians to consider the impact of the protests on the state’s extensive police force.

“If there is an ongoing demand on Victoria Police, you should expect there to be an ongoing impact on service delivery, this is a natural consequence.”

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