Protest and civil disobedience are rights that have often been pivotal to progress and justice the world over throughout history.
Like all rights, they come with responsibilities.
The fundamental ethical constraint on protest is that it ought not trample the rights and safety of innocent others. The anti-lockdown protests this weekend in Melbourne and elsewhere this weekend were, thus, irresponsible.
They were poorly organised, without the necessary stress and guidance on simple safety measures including social distancing and wearing a mask.
They appeared to have been to some extent hijacked by racists and groups intent merely on violently creating havoc. The irony of a lockdown protest leading to lockdown extensions is evident.
Evident, too, was the disproportionate response by Victoria Police, which for the first time used high-intensity riot-control weapons against citizens they are duty-bound to serve and protect.
The Reason Party would like Victoria Police to explain why precisely these weapons were used, and why the police responded with such force.
The events are distressing for many, and reflect the community’s rising levels of fear, anger and frustration as the delta mutation of Covid-19 drives the number of days in lockdown in Melbourne beyond 200.
The Reason Party is concerned about the implications of the protests for front-line health workers. The rallies, attended by unprotected thousands, are potential super-spreader events.
This is a time for balance and humanity. They were lamentably lacking in Melbourne this weekend.
The solution, of course, is vaccination. The Federal Government is being validly criticised for failing to secure sufficient vaccine supplies sufficiently early. But they are at last becoming widely available. We urge people to get vaccinated – as soon as possible.
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