Police say they used “reasonable force” to remove a group of East West Link protesters who were preventing employees from entering a Melbourne construction company office.
A group of 60 people from the group Tunnel Picketers rallied against the road project in an organised protest outside the Lend Lease building on Wednesday morning.
Victoria Police Inspector Peter Ward said about 40 officers were on site and were met with resistance by the protesters. He said officers moved in to enable access for the neighbouring Fujitsu workers and cafe staff.
“This morning we attempted to negotiate with the protest leaders but they firmly indicated that no one was going to be allowed into the building,” Insp Ward told reporters.
“It’s my opinion police used reasonable force to facilitate access to the building for workers.
“Unfortunately a small group of protesters were prepared to challenge police and not co-operate by not allowing Fujitsu workers into the building,” he said.
Insp Ward said additional specialist police officers were on hand in case the protest got out of hand. Protesters targeted the construction company as it is bidding for work on the East West Link tunnel.
Insp Ward said police adjusted their tactics to respond to the protest after a cafe owner told officers he wanted to trade.
Protest organiser Mel Gregson said before the protest that if the government was arrogant enough to proceed with construction they would be met with a mass community picket.
“We are demanding that Lend Lease pull out of this project,” Ms Gregson said.
“This community is not going to allow billions of dollars to be wasted on a toll road and tunnel that won’t reduce congestion.
“We want to see money invested into the state’s public transport network.”
Insp Potter said police expected to attend further protests in coming weeks and they were unsure of the tactics protesters may use.