A photograph of a man striking a horse is going viral.
Taken at the anti-lockdown protest in Sydney on Saturday, attended by 3,500 mostly maskless people, the demonstrator wore a 'Free Speech' shirt as he extended his arm to a police horse's jaw.
Photographed by Brook Mitchell, the image shows a moment amid the chaos. Surrounded by protestors who are fiercely defying lockdown laws, police officers trying to control the sometimes violent crowds and horses who appear distressed by the disorder; the photograph represents the great unrest.
Not visible in the image is the disease they are protesting against. With infections rising each day, there are growing fears the protest will be a 'super-spreader' event of COVID-19, which in the past 24 hours has killed a Sydney woman in her 30s with no pre-existing health conditions.
Online, thousands have expressed their outrage that a man put his fist to the face of an innocent horse.
The Sydney Morning Herald photographer who captured the viral image has said he himself was pushed to the ground amid the chaos.
“In all the years I’ve been covering protests in Sydney and other places, this was definitely the most violent,” he told the publication.
However, there is also a video of the encounter which is being circulated in anti-lockdown groups, who are asserting the man did not 'punch' the horse.