A woman at the centre of a bitter controversy over a video she shared of herself breaching a coronavirus checkpoint has defended her actions on social media.
Eve Black, also known as Eve Limberiou, a self-proclaimed COVID-19 conspiracy theorist who refers to the pandemic as a “SCAMdemic”, recorded herself passing through a Melbourne checkpoint after managing to avoid questions by police due to her excessive truculence.
She was widely criticised online and in the media, but struck a defiant tone on her Facebook following the backlash.
“I regret nothing. I’m just tired of the abuse and threats. Wake up, sleeper,” she wrote Friday, adding a sheep emoji.
Shortly after sharing the video Ms Black made her Facebook page private and changed her profile photo to a symbol associated with conspiracy group QAnon.
QAnon is a sprawling theory built around belief in an international conspiracy of high-ranking government officials to kidnap, abuse, torture and kill children. Many of its ardent followers espouse ideas of a “sovereign citizen” movement.
This week social media companies moved to ban all QAnon groups and associated links from its platform citing the harm caused by the believers.
Victoria police have since spoken out and cautioned Ms Black that she will received a visit from police regarding the incident.
“I’m sure she’s looking forward to a knock on the door from police officers,” VIC Police Minister Lisa Neville said in a press conference on Friday.
“What she did was incredibly selfish and by posting it on social media she was encouraging others to do the same.”
Victoria police told Yahoo News Australia Saturday they couldn’t comment on individuals but the investigation was “ongoing”.
On Saturday State Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed in a media conference that Ms Black will be held responsible, describing her behaviour as “completely unnecessary” cautioning that if people continue to flout the rules, restrictions will stay in place longer.
“Victoria Police have that matter in hand.
“They are working hard to find that person. And that person will either have a lawful reason to be in regional Victoria or that person won't, and if they don't, then Victoria Police, I am confident, will fine them,” Mr Andrews said.
Ms Black’s video is just one of many circulating showing Melburnians subject to a stage 3 lockdown flouting the rules.
A man recently uploaded a 22 minute long video being questioned by VIC police for refusing to wear a mask while on a walk through a Melbourne neighbourhood where face masks are mandatory.
In the video the man can be seen telling officers he is asthmatic before refusing to show his identification.
He also described Melbourne as “racist” before lounging into a tirade about coronavirus not being as deadly as the flu.
“Are people dying everywhere? Are you seeing a lot of sick people? Are you having issues with sick people dying on the street just randomly from this deadly disease?” he said.
He eventually ended the video agreeing to show police his ID.
Conspiracy theories in the time of coronavirus
Existing and new conspiracy theories have gained increasing attention during the coronavirus, ranging from the longstanding anti-vaccination movement to blaming Bill Gates for being behind the novel coronavirus.
Ana Stojanov works in the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand where she has spent years researching the rise of conspiracy theories. As with any complex phenomena, the reasons people are drawn to them can vary widely, she told Yahoo News Australia recently.
“If the content of the conspiracy belief confirms people's worldview they'll be especially drawn to it. The positive feeling arising from ‘being in the know’ and possessing unique knowledge about some event may likewise be satisfying,” she said.
For some people, it’s about gaining a sense of control and order in an inherently chaotic world.
“Sometimes the alternative to conspiracy explanation suggests that events happen at random, so people prefer malevolent agents over randomness,” Ms Stojanov explained.
Victorian health officials have been faced with the challenges brought about by the spreading conspiracy theories with a growing number of locals becoming uncooperative with contact tracers as they try to contain the virus spread.
An earlier version of this story included an inaccurate quote from Justice Stephen Kaye. It has been removed.
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