In July, the Australian state of Victoria declared a state of disaster, and a lockdown, in response to rising COVID-19 numbers.
As with most lockdowns around the world, there were those who saw the logic in staying indoors and waiting for the numbers to go down, while others made the decision to fight back.
The negative responses to the lockdown ranged from civil (peaceful protests) to downright dangerous, with Victorians refusing to co-operate with police checks, calling themselves “sovereign citizens”, and in some cases engaging in violent showdowns with law enforcement.
More recently, a viral video, originally live-streamed on Facebook, has further divided public opinion.
BBC reports that Zoe-Lee Buhler was handcuffed and arrested in her home in Victoria on Wednesday in front of her partner and children, whilst pregnant, for promoting an anti-lockdown protest online.
When asked what the arrest is about, one officer says: “It’s in relation to a Facebook post, in relation to a lockdown protest you put on just that day.”
Ms Buhler, who is wearing pyjamas, then offers to delete her post.
“My two kids are here – I have an ultrasound in an hour,” she says. “This is ridiculous… I didn’t realise I was doing anything wrong.”
The officers respond by telling her that she has been charged with “incitement” over a planned protest in Ballarat, one among a number of anti-lockdown rallies.
Watch it play out here, alongside an interview with Buhler:
That copper from the 30-second mark is peak Ozzie.
The public, human rights activists, and opposition lawmakers are, for the most part, livid.
“Arresting people pre-emptively for the act of organising peaceful protests or for social media posts is something that happens all too often under authoritarian regimes, and it should not be happening in a democracy like Australia,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.
On the other side, authorities are defending the arrest with State Premier Daniel Andrews saying that protests undermined public health efforts.
“Now is not the time to protest about anything. Because to do so is not safe,” he said on Thursday.
Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius added: “[I’m] outraged to say there are still people in our community who think it’s a good idea at the time of this deadly pandemic to leave home and protest.”
Police busting into your home and arresting you, for a Facebook event with a handful of attendees, seems a little over the top.
Then again, the Ozzie police can simply say that laws have been broken, and they’re within their rights to take action.
I just watch that video and think damn, let’s keep taking precautions so that we don’t have to back to a stricter lockdown alert level.
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