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Scuffles at Australian 'Occupy' protest

Two policemen are injured and up to 20 people arrested in clashes between authorities and anti-capitalism protesters in Australia's second-largest city Melbourne on Friday

AFP , Friday 21 Oct 2011
Australia
Two policemen are injured and up to 20 people arrested in clashes between authorities and anti-capitalism protesters in Australia's second-largest city Melbourne on Friday. (AFP: Photo)
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Australia's Police used pepper spray to subdue some protesters as they attempted to turn scores out of City Square, Australia's second-largest city Melbourne, where they have been camped out for almost a week as part of the global anti-corporate greed "Occupy" protests.

"I've been throwing water on my eyes, I've been rubbing onion in my eyes, I've even thrown milk on eyes to cool the sting, but my face is still on fire so I'm going to go off to the ambulance now," one demonstrator told the ABC.

Police moved in early on Friday to remove the protesters after Melbourne city council deemed they needed to go and shortly afterwards scuffles broke out.

"We're trying to use the minimum amount of force as possible," Assistant Victoria Police Commissioner Steve Fontana said.

"We've asked the demonstrators or protesters to move on peacefully, they obviously haven't."

Police said about 20 protesters, many of whom were carried by police from the area, had minor injuries, as did two police officers.

"We don't really want to engage in this sort of activity but we're not going to back down either," Fontana told reporters as he denied police used excessive force, adding that more than 400 officers were involved in the operation.

"They've had more than ample time to make their point in terms of what their protest is about and I think it's time to give the City Square back to the citizens of Melbourne."

Occupy Melbourne spokesman David Schoeffel said the protests were meant to be peaceful.

"We're not violent. We're occupying, we're not going to leave," he said.

"But we're going to be peaceful and that may mean that people may have to be arrested, unfortunately."

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