Pregnant anti-lockdown protester live-streams her arrest

Coronavirus: Pregnant Victorian woman filmed arrest
A pregnant anti-lockdown protester, who livestreamed her arrest, claims she has no idea she wasn’t allowed to plan a protest, describing it as a “bimbo moment”.

A pregnant anti-lockdown protester, who live-streamed her arrest on social media, has broken her silence about the clip that seems to have divided the internet.

Zoe Buhler, 28, was yesterday charged with inciting a protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Ballarat’s CBD.

The video on her Facebook page had already been viewed more than 1.4 million times in the space of four hours by Wednesday night, climbing to 4.6 million by early this morning.

Ms Buhler has since been banned from posting on Facebook as one of her bail conditions but has been doing the rounds on media this morning.

Speaking to 3AW, Ms Buhler claimed she “didn’t realise” the protest wasn’t allowed.

“I was aware that the protest coming up in Melbourne wasn‘t permitted ... but we’re in Stage 3 lockdown,” she said.

“I had a bit of a bimbo moment.”

Later speaking on KIISFM, Ms Buhler said the arrest was “very overwhelming”.

Ms Buhler also told 9 News she thought she was being “kidnapped” by the plain-clothes detectives.

“I just wanted to feel like I was doing something, you know, standing up for human rights,” Ms Buhler said.

“I was scared that I was just being kidnapped by people. They obviously were in uniforms. Yes, I have been charged with incitement and - which like I said, I'm still yet to know exactly what that means.”

Furious social media comments earlier described the footage of her arrest as “absolutely disgusting” and “not OK”.

“What the actual f***!” one person wrote, echoing many others, while another described it as a “national day of shame”.

The news has made international headlines, with American publications including USA Today, the Washington Examiner and Newsweek and the UK’s The Sun among those picking up the story, while social media users from across the globe have also slammed the handling of the case.

Australian commentators have also weighed in, with former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman describing Victoria Police as the “shame of the nation” while activist social media account Mad F*cking Witches also questioned the police response.

“How can we live in a country where a young pregnant woman gets arrested for allegedly inciting anti-lockdown angst but Neil Mitchell, Alan Jones, Sam Newman and Adam Creighton ... don’t?” the account tweeted.

Detectives descended on Ms Buhler’s Miners Rest home yesterday, armed with a search warrant, after they became aware of a “prohibited gathering” scheduled to take place in the regional Victorian city this Saturday.

Officers raided the 28-year-old’s home and seized her mobile phone and computer equipment, after she greeted them at the door in pink pyjamas.

Upon being told she was going to be arrested, Ms Buhler began to cry and told officers she would “happily” delete her social media posts, with her Facebook page reportedly containing links to a “peaceful, freedom day” protest scheduled for the weekend.

“The government has gone to extreme measures and are using scare tactics through the media to prevent the Melbourne protest,” the event’s description said.

“Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those in stage four lockdowns.”

“What on earth? Excuse me, what on earth?” the woman is heard asking police while filming them, before asking another male in the house to film the confrontation.

“I’m in my pyjamas. I have an ultrasound in an hour.”

She then told police she had not “broken any laws” by posting about the protest on Facebook, to which the officers responded that she had.

Ms Buhler was charged with incitement and granted bail, and is expected to appear in the Ballarat Magistrates Court on January 25 next year.

“This is unequivocally not okay,” US-based conservative Australian commentator Sydney Watson wrote on Twitter.

Herald Sun columnist Rita Panahi wrote, “Victoria Police going after the big crooks.”

Victoria Police have since issued a stark warning to anyone still considering attending the event, saying protesters can “expect a swift and firm response from police”.

“Those still thinking of attending the protest in Ballarat on Saturday can expect a swift and firm response from police,” a statement said.

“We will have no hesitation in issuing $1652 fines to anyone who is breaching the restrictions on the day, or making arrests if necessary.”

The arrest comes just days after a group of anti-lockdown protesters in Melbourne’s north clashed with police, and AFL great Sam Newman called on 250,000 residents to “take back the city”.

After Victoria Police threatened to arrest him, the 74-year-old abruptly backed down, telling Sunrise yesterday morning that his call to arms was simply “hyperbole”.

“I said wouldn’t it be great to have 250,000 people wandering through the city – I don’t encourage people to do that but it was just a sign that this government should cautiously reopen business enterprises in the city before it rusts over,” Newman told the program.

The former Footy Show host tweeted this afternoon he’d also been paid a visit by police, who advised him “against protesting”.
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