A live video shared to Facebook on Wednesday shows a pregnant Australian woman arrested in her home in response to an anti-lockdown protest event that she had privately posted. In the video, Victorian police are seen confiscating several recording devices from the home, including computers and the phone on which the video was captured.
The Facebook Live video currently touts over 3.5 million views and has been shared nearly 90,000 times.
According to the Daily Mail, on Wednesday, 28-year-old Zoe Bohler’s home was raided by Victorian state police who claimed they had a warrant out for her arrest on charges of incitement. The woman was handcuffed and arrested while wearing pajamas in front of her children just an hour before she was due to be seen by doctors for an ultrasound. The incident was caught on tape via Facebook Live video by her partner. After reading the mother her rights, Victorian police proceeded to take away the phone that was recording, as well as other recording devices found in the Ballarat home.
The video begins as police enter the woman’s home. “You’re under arrest in relation to incitement,” states detective Adrian Smith. The mother responds, saying “Excuse me, incitement for what, what on Earth? I’m in my pajamas, my two kids are here.” She continues, explaining that she has an ultrasound in an hour as she is currently pregnant.
“It’s in relation to a Facebook post, in relation to a lockdown protest you put on just that day,” says Smith as the woman is put in handcuffs. “I wasn’t breaking any laws by doing that,” she states, to which he responds, “You are actually. You are breaking the law… That’s why I’m arresting you.”
A later screenshot of the private anti-lockdown Facebook post by Lee was shared, revealing the details of the planned “Freedom Day Ballarat” protest. The event was set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 5 in response to government prevention of similar anti-lockdown rallies being held throughout Melbourne.
“As some of you may have seen the government has gone to extreme measures and are using scare tactics through the media to prevent the Melbourne protest,” the event post stated. “Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those in stage 4 lockdowns.”
According to Victoria Health and Human Services, as of Sunday Aug. 2, stage 4 lockdown restrictions have been set for residents of Metropolitan Melbourne in response to the spread of the coronavirus, although not in Ballarat. A curfew between 8pm to 5am was set in place, requiring that residents stay home between the designated hours unless leaving for work or medical care. Residents are allowed to leave their homes to shop for food or essentials, exercise, and permitted work, with limitations. The lockdown is stated not to end until at least Sept. 13.
“We can be seen and heard and hopefully make a difference,” stated the details of the retaliatory event’s post. “End lockdowns. Stand for human rights. We live in a ‘free’ country.”
The anti-lockdown post emphasized that the protest was meant to be organized and peaceful in its nature, requesting that participants wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines so as to avoid arrest.
In a statement to the Daily Mail a Victorian Police spokeswoman said those planning to attend the protest or other “Freedom Day” events will face swift response from law enforcement. “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,” she said.
Buhler has been charged with incitement and released on bail. She will face Ballarat Magistrates in court on Jan. 25, 2021.
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*First Published: Sep 2, 2020, 1:58 pm
Onaje McDowelle is a contributing editor and writer for the Daily Dot. His work has appeared in GRAMMY.com, NPR, Austin Monthly Magazine, and more.