Zoe Lee arrested for incitement to peaceful protest

On Wednesday, a pregnant 28-year-old woman was arrested in her own home in Ballarat on incitement charges.

In front of her children.

In her pyjamas.

Zoe Lee [the name she goes by on Facebook] is accused of creating a Freedom Day event for 11am on Saturday, and posting it on Facebook.

The social media post read, “The government has gone to extreme measures and are using scare tactics through the media to prevent the Melbourne protest. Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those in stage four lockdowns.”

The clip, which was posted to social media has caused outrage across the country today, with a growing number concerned by what they believe is government overreach.

In the clip, the visibly distressed woman says:

“What on earth? Excuse me what on earth? I have an ultrasound in an hour because I am pregnant. I wasn’t breaking any laws by doing that [posting the event on Facebook].”

A Victoria Police officer replied, “You are actually, that’s why I am arresting you.”

Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius has today said he believes officers acted “appropriately” when arresting the woman.

“We’re satisfied in those circumstances the members behaved appropriately and in accordance with our policy,” he said. “They have been polite, they have been professional, when the individual indicated she may be late for an appointment at the hospital, our members actually contacted the hospital and make arrangements for an alternative appointment. Our members did everything they could to both secure their safety and the safety of the people involved but also to assist this individual with her concerns.”

He added, “We can’t discriminate in holding people to account.”

He also used the media conference as another opportunity to discourage people from attending the protest, saying:

“I’d say if these people still choose to come out on Saturday, they’ll be arrested.”

However, just weeks ago, Cornelius stood in front of a media conference commenting on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest. He said then:

“We respect the right everyone has to protest peacefully and lawfully.”

Well, which is it to be?

Is he hoping we’ve forgotten his take on the BLM protests?

Does everyone have the right to protest peacefully or not?

If you’re trying to rustle up support for arresting a woman in her own home in her pyjamas while defending BLM protests, you’re on shaky ground, sir.

Victoria Police cannot be in charge of which speech is allowed – and which isn’t.

Either all protests are allowed or none at all.

Going soft on certain politically motivated protests is certainly not acceptable policy.

What’s currently occurring in Victoria is a reminder of how swiftly civil liberties can be lost – and how important it is to fight for them.

They came for Zoe Lee, who’s next?

Surely this is a wake-up to accept authoritarianism at your peril?

Corrine Barraclough has a journalism career spanning 20 years, including senior positions at national magazines in London, New York & Sydney. She embraced the whirlwind of celebrity and entertainment journalism and the heady lifestyle that went with it before walking away from it all to live on the Gold Coast and pursue a balanced life.

The Corrine Barraclough Show discusses family law, its impact on mental health and the damage of the gender-bias in mainstream media.

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