Dozens of activists have clashed with police at a pro-Palestinian rally at the Port of Melbourne on Monday afternoon.
Activists have been protesting at the Webb Dock since Friday preventing an Israeli-owned shipping company, ZIM, from unloading and forcing it to anchor in the bay.
In a statement posted online, Free Palestine Melbourne — the group behind the protest, said it’s “blocking worker shifts from entering the terminal and stranding four ships with 30,000 containers”.
Posts on social media show activists chaining themselves to fences at the Port while others chanted.
A heavy police presence was visible which included the Public Order Response Unit and officers on horseback.
Police could be seen using what appears to be pepper spray during a scuffle with protesters.
Victoria Police did not respond directly to that incident but in a statement said “it has a strong presence to prevent breaches of the peace and ensure the safety of the community”.
“Police have the ability to deal with people under the breach of peace and move on powers,” police said.
“Anyone coming to the event purely to cause trouble, such as inciting or inflicting violence, can expect a swift response from police.”
Volunteer legal observers from Melbourne Activist Legal Support, who were at the rally, spoke with the ABC and raised concern for what they say was an unlawful use of pepper spray.
They also raised concerns for the treatment of one activist who they say was dragged out of their wheelchair and taken away.
The ABC has contacted the shipping company, ZIM, for comment.
Earlier on Monday, play was briefly stopped at the Australian Open after a pro-Palestinian activist dropped thousands of leaflets at multiple games and played “loud audio of bombs dropping”.