Anti-Lockdown, Anti-Mask Protesters Are Getting Arrested in Australia

Two men who organized an anti-mask and anti-lockdown protest in Australia were arrested on Thursday by the Victoria Police Department.

According to an email sent to Newsweek, the department arrested the two men as the protest they organized was "in breach of the Chief Health Officer's directions."

The two men arrested were not named, but the department identified them as a "41-year-old male from Mooroolbark" and a "41-year-old male from Chirnside Park." According to the email sent to Newsweek, the man from Mooroolbark was charged with incitement but was let out on bail and is expected to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on January 21, 2021. The man from Chirnside Park was released "with intent to summons," and, pending investigation, is expected to be charged later today with the same offenses.

Police also seized mobile phones and a computer, while conducting search warrants on both of the men.

The two men organized a protest on Facebook, called the "Freedom Day Celebration" according to 9News in Australia. The protest was scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 9, at the steps of Parliament on Melbourne as the organizers reportedly believed that the new coronavirus is a "biochemical" weapon, 9News reported.

In the police department's email to Newsweek, it explained that the current coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Melbourne "do not allow for any form of public gatherings, including public protests, to occur under the recreational activity clause even if there are two people or less."

"This is why police were able to use the incitement charge on the individuals allegedly organising this activity. Police will continue to enforce the Stage 4 restrictions in Metropolitan Melbourne," the department added in its email.

Prior to the arrests made on Thursday, the department issued a warning to those planning to attend the protest on their Facebook page.

"This is a completely blatant breach of the Chief Health Officer's directions and puts Victorian lives at risk," the department wrote on its Facebook page. "This selfish behaviour will absolutely not be tolerated. Be assured Victoria Police will be responding and will take appropriate action."

The department added that it would not hesitate "in issuing $1,652 fines or making arrests on the day, if necessary."

Coronavirus in Australia
Police officers and soldiers patrol a popular running track in Melbourne, Australia, on August 4, after the state announced new restrictions as the city battles fresh outbreaks of COVID-19. The Victoria Police Department arrested two men as the protest they organized was "in breach of the Chief Health Officer's directions." William West/Getty

On Friday, July 31, the Victoria Police Department faced a similar situation as anti-mask protesters, holding an Australian flag, gathered outside Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance.

According to 9News in Australia, the protesters said their motivation was to "exercise their claim to freedom."

During the protest, police issued a total of 18 infringements, according to The Australian, as a Victoria Police spokesperson told the publication that "the fines issued were to people who attended the area today for a demonstration."

"Police directed the individuals to leave the area or receive an infringement notice for breaching the chief health officer's directives. All individuals received a $1,652 fine," the spokesperson added, according to The Australian.