Mom handcuffed for advocating against coronavirus lockdown

Woman charged with using social media to incite others to break pandemic restrictions

(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) (Rick Rycroft, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MELBOURNE – A pregnant woman said Thursday she didn’t know she had broken any law when she was handcuffed by police in front of her children in her Australian home and led away in pajamas for allegedly inciting activists to demonstrate against pandemic lockdown.

Zoe Buhler’s partner helped her livestream the arrest on Wednesday at her home where she lives with two children, aged 3 and 4, in the Victoria state city of Ballarat. The video has been viewed millions of times.

The 28-year-old has since been charged with using social media platforms to incite others to break pandemic restrictions by attending weekend rallies.

“The police could have given me a phone call and said, ‘Look, you need to take down your event or you could be charged with a crime,’ and I would have done that,” she told reporters.

“It could have been as simple as that. You know, I’m not someone that would you know ever commit a crime or anything like that,” she added.

Victoria is Australia’s COVID-19 hot spot and its capital Melbourne has been under lockdown restrictions unprecedented in Australia since early August.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius described police cuffing Buhler as “entirely reasonable.”

“The optics of arresting someone who is pregnant are terrible,” Cornelius said.

Police have also arrested three men and charged them with inciting others to break pandemic restrictions over planned protests in Melbourne on Saturday.