Australian police handcuffed a pregnant woman and confiscated her family’s electronic devices after she posted on Facebook about an anti-lockdown event, according to a viral video viewed millions of times.
The woman, 28, was charged with incitement — a crime in Australia in which an offender encourages others to break the law, according to a statement from Victoria Police.
The Guardian and Yahoo News have identified the woman as Zoe Buhler. The Guardian reports she created an event on Facebook for a protest critical of the region’s ongoing coronavirus lockdown. Police in the region have arrested multiple such organizers in a crackdown, the publication reports.
“Any gathering of this nature is in blatant breach of the Chief Health Officer’s directions and puts Victorian lives at risk,” Victoria Police’s statement says. “Those still thinking of attending the protest in Ballarat on Saturday can expect a swift and firm response from police.”
Buhler’s has falsely called the coronavirus pandemic “the biggest hoax on earth,” on Facebook and criticized lockdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
Victoria State began a second lockdown in early August after emerging as a hotspot for coronavirus infections in Australia.
The region currently is under a curfew. During daytime hours, people may only leave their homes for reasons such as buying essential goods and services, going to work or exercising, according to the Australian Government Department of Health.
The latest seven-day average of new reported infections per day in the region, home to more than 6 million people, has now dropped below 100.
The video shows police informing Buhler of the charges and saying a search warrant allows them to seize all electronic devices in the home, even ones she does not own. She offers to delete the post, but an officer says the offense has already been committed.
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Buhler offers numerous objections, saying she did not know she was breaking any laws, that she is scheduled for an ultrasound that day and that her children were watching as police handcuffed her.
Australia’s economy suffered its sharpest economic contraction since the Great Depression due to the pandemic, with recent data confirming the country is in its first recession in 28 years.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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