A 28-year-old pregnant Victorian woman has been arrested after she allegedly organised a protest event for Saturday that breaches the government’s coronavirus restrictions.
Zoe Buhler uploaded a live Facebook video on Wednesday afternoon as Victoria Police entered her home in Miners Rest, north of Ballarat, with an arrest warrant.
The mum, with the Facebook name Zoe Lee, can be seen in her pyjamas with her two children and partner watching on. Police explain to Ms Buhler she is being placed under arrest for incitement and she is handcuffed.
“It’s in relation to a Facebook post, in relation to a lockdown protest for Saturday,” the arresting police officer explains to her.
“I can take down the post, this is ridiculous,” Ms Buhler says.
“How about she just doesn’t do the event,” a man believed to be Ms Buhler’s partner asks.
“We believe you are committed to it,” police reply.
It’s believed Ms Buhler was involved in the planning of a Freedom Day event being held in Ballarat on Saturday, with several other demonstrations organised around Australia.
More than 8,700 members are part of the Facebook group planning the events.
It’s unclear how many people plan to attend the Ballarat event or the other Victorian event planned for Melbourne CBD as the event’s post has since been removed
“Victoria Police is aware of a prohibited gathering which is planned for Ballarat on Saturday,” Victoria Police told Yahoo News Australia in an emailed statement.
“Any gathering of this nature is in blatant breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions and puts Victorian lives at risk.”
Under government Stage 3 restrictions for regional Victoria, people are only allowed to gather outdoors with only one other person from their household.
In Melbourne Metro areas residents are in lockdown and must stay home unless they are leaving for shopping for food and essential items, medical care or caregiving, exercise, and permitted work if you can’t work or study from home.
Victoria Police told Yahoo News they were prepared to arrest others involved in breaching the Chief Health Officer’s directions.
“Police executed a search warrant at a Miners Rest address this afternoon and a mobile device was seized.
“As a result, a 28-year old female has been charged with the offence of incitement and has been bailed to appear at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on 25 January, 2021,” police said.
Victoria Police cautioned those still thinking of attending the protest and said they can expect “a swift and firm response from police”.
“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,” Victorian police said.
Yahoo News Australia has reached out to Zoe Buhler for comment.
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