Police break up East-West Link protest picket line in Fitzroy North

Herald Sun: Police break up East-West Link protest picket line in Fitzroy North. Sophie Aubrey (6 February 2014)

Police hold up a fence to stop protesters pushing through to the drill site. Pictures: Nicole Garmston Source: News Limited

Police and East-West Link protesters clashed this morning when officers physically broke up the picket line.

The violent scuffle erupted at 7am after Acting Insp Steve Wilson warned about 40 demonstrators to move a metre from the weakening fence around the Fitzroy North drilling site on the corner of Alexandra Pde and Nicholson St.

The mob refused to move and instead formed a human chain.

About 20 officers from the public order response team muscled their way into the group.

Protesters and police at an East-West Link drilling site.

Officers and protesters tussled on the ground and campaigners yelled, “This is a peaceful protest” while fighting police.

Police formed a line along the fence to protect it from falling down after protesters had pushed against it.

The demonstrators banded in front of them.

Police remove a protester at the drilling site.

This came just an hour after three protesters jumped into the drilling site by climbing over the wall of a neighbouring property.

Police then grabbed and dragged them across the site into a divvy van for questioning.

Victoria Police spokeswoman Jessica Foulds said all three were expected to be charged on summons.

Police keep an eye on protesters as a drill worker gets on with his job.

Protest organiser Anthony Main defended the campaigners, claiming they hadn’t interfered with the fence.

“It’s a mystery to me why the police moved in, but clearly they wanted us away from the fence,” Mr Main said.

“The main thing is we held up work and we’re happy with that.”

The protest ended about 8.30am.

Peak-hour traffic along Alexandra Pde faced minor delays as police blocked one eastbound lane.

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