The young mother was handcuffed in front of her boyfriend and small children just an hour before she was supposed to have an ultrasound.
This is an unbelievable story that you wouldn’t expect would ever happen in a Western democracy.
On Wednesday afternoon, two police officers entered the home of Zoe Buhler, 28, in Miners Rest, Ballarat, northwest of Melbourne, with a search warrant. Police informed her that she was being arrested for “incitement” and began reading her rights to her. She was still wearing her pajamas and said that she had an appointment to have an ultrasound an hour later. Officers were unmoved.
When Buhler asked why she was being arrested, one of the officers told her it was because she had organized an anti-lockdown protest on Facebook scheduled for September 5.
Buhler livestreamed her arrest on Facebook. Once she was handcuffed, her partner, James Timmins continued filming until the phones were confiscated. All electronic devices were removed from the home, including those that belonged to her boyfriend and Buhler’s sister.
Watch the video filmed by Buhler and Timmins:
Posted by Zoe Lee on Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Buhler has been released and faces a $20,000 fine. Her court date is scheduled for January 2021.
Ms Buhler was charged with later incitement released on bail to face Ballarat Magistrates Court on January 25 next year.
Her friends and family were horrified when they learned of the arrest via a Facebook post.
‘This is absolutely disgusting!! Why don’t they do their job and catch some real criminals. This fear mongering is ridiculous,’ one friend said.
‘This cannot be legal,’ another added.
The protest that Buhler organized was part of a national movement pushing back against the harsh restrictions that have been imposed on Australians. It appears that some organizers of the national protest consider COVID-19 to be a hoax. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has slammed the protests as “fundamentally wrong, irresponsible, and unsafe.”
Here’s how News 7 reported the upcoming protests:
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) August 25, 2020
ClashDaily covered the shocking authoritarianism that has been embraced by Aussie politicians during the pandemic here:
In Buhler’s Facebook post organizing the “Freedom Day Ballarat” protest, she encouraged those attending to practice social distancing and wear masks because she didn’t want people to be arrested.
Ballarat isn’t in the restrictive Stage 4 lockdown that Melbourne is in, which includes a nightly curfew from 8 pm-5 am, one hour outside for exercise, and limiting travel to a 5 km (3 mile) radius from home, but the Stage 3 lockdown is still quite harsh.
In both Stage 3 and Stage 4, people are only permitted to leave their home for four reasons: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise, work, and study. No visitors are permitted, and most businesses remain closed. Restaurants are take-out only.
It’s no wonder that Australians were pushing back on these harsh restrictions.
But Victoria Police warn that anyone thinking of attending the protest “can expect a swift and firm response from police.”
A spokesperson for the Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia:
‘We will have no hesitation in issuing $1,652 fines to anyone who is breaching the restrictions on the day, or making arrests if necessary.’
Regional Victorian towns like Ballarat are spared the ultra-tough Stage Four lockdown but are still in Stage Three, making it illegal for more than two people to gather.
Police consider any protests to be in breach of these rules and have proved willing to arrest anyone organising or encouraging any gatherings.
Victoria Police claimed the protest would put lives at risk and anyone who showed up would be fined or arrested.
Source: Daily Mail (Emphasis Added)
Australians are absolutely outraged at this crackdown on a pregnant woman who was organizing a protest which followed the “science” of mask-wearing and social distancing.
Buhler isn’t alone in her arrest. Organizers of the Melbourne protest have also been arrested.
What the hell, Australia?
The right to peacefully assemble is one that isn’t something that can be taken away by the government–even during a pandemic. By all accounts, Buhler was attempting to be responsible when organizing her protest and told attendees to follow internationally-accepted guidelines to prevent the coronavirus during the protest.
The next time someone tells you that the United States of America is a terrible place that squashes peoples’ freedoms, ask them if someone organizing a peaceful protest on Facebook has been arrested. When someone says that President Trump is a “fascist” or “dictator” ask them if he’s imposing restrictions banning more than two people gathering.
Then tell them that this is happening right now in Australia.