Police officers shatter a woman’s car window outside a meeting for Melbourne’s anti-maskers – as cop shuts down her claim that arrest is against the law
- Police set up roadblock near Combat Athlete gym in Melbourne on Saturday
- Gym is where 50 coronavirus conspiracy theorists illegally met last week
- Woman arrested after she refused to provide her details or speak to officers
- Organiser Nick Patterson claimed meeting was held online so cops wasted time
A woman was dramatically arrested at a police roadblock outside a gym where a group of coronavirus conspiracy theorists have been meeting.
Police smashed the woman’s window and dragged her out of the car after she refused to speak to officers in Melbourne about 6.30pm on Saturday.
‘Excuse me, this is unlawful,’ she said as she was loaded into a paddy wagon, to which a policeman responded ‘no, it’s not’.
The police officer was praised after footage of his blunt response to the woman as she was arrested was shared online.
A woman was dramatically arrested at a police roadblock outside a gym where a group of coronavirus conspiracy theorists have been meeting
The police roadblock as seen on the gym’s security cameras and posted online
The roadblock was set up near Combat Athlete gym in Cranbourne, where a meeting of at least 50 covid-19 deniers was held a week earlier.
Whether the woman was headed to the gym or involved with the group is unclear, but police said she refused to give her details or drivers licence.
The group always refuse to cooperate at traffic stops as they don’t recognise police authority, and even have a script they read from when arguing with officers.
Victorian Police said the woman was charged on summons with hindering police, refusing to state her name and address and refusing an alcohol and drug test.
She was also fined for breaching lockdown in that she was travelling outside her home without a valid reason, and released.
The roadblock was set up near Combat Athlete gym in Cranbourne, where a meeting of at least 50 covid-19 deniers was held a week earlier (pictured)
Former MMA fighter Nick Patterson (pictured) is one of the group’s ringleaders. His website John 8 acts as a resource for anti-mask conspiracy theorists
The meeting was organised by Nick Patterson, a former MMA fighter who owns the gym and hosted the previous meeting a week before.
Mr Patterson in a blog post in the early hours of Sunday morning claimed Saturday’s meeting of 40 anti-maskers was online and police wasted their time.
‘After just finishing an online meeting, we were made aware that the police and media had set a trap in order to show the public what happens when you dare to speak out,’ he wrote.
‘However, earlier in the week we had decided to move the meeting online due to the ever-increasing violence and extreme measures that the government and police have been putting in place.’
Mr Patterson claimed his members were unaware of the roadblock until neighbours told him 15 police cars were on the road, and he reviewed his security camera film.
He also posted a short dashcam video of himself arriving in the street and making a turn as soon as he saw the roadblock ahead.
He did not say whether the woman arrested was part of the group, but called her an ‘unfortunate victim’.
Some of the 50 people who attended the previous meeting including Mr Patterson (third from right) are seen after it wrapped up. Others are Matt Aitken (right), Maureen Wilson (second from left) and Jacquie Dundee Muller (third from left)
The group always refuse to cooperate at traffic stops as they don’t recognise police authority
‘This poor lady had her window smashed, was pulled from her car and was taken to the paddy wagon,’ he wrote.
Mr Patterson’s claims that the meeting was held online were supported by no large group of people showing up to the venue.
A photo from the previous meeting at 6pm last Saturday showed a tight circle of followers with Mr Patterson in the middle – even as gatherings of more than two were banned.
‘A great night together discussing the putrid conduct of the police, government and media lies. We are strong and won’t bow down to these oppressors,’ he wrote.
He also praised Eve Black, who was widely condemned for refusing to provide her details to officers as she left a coronavirus hotspot.
‘Thank you for sharing your experience with us and how media created a work of fiction with their slanderous narrative to demonise you, a true libertarian. God bless the righteous and give them power to prevail,’ he said.
Black replied: ‘Thank you for having me there. It was so amazing to be in a room full of people who support and celebrate me during this tough time.’
Black was on Wednesday arrested in similar fashion to the woman in Cranbourne, with her window smashed in after she refused to cooperate with police.
She was charged with failing to hand over her driver’s licence, not giving her name and address, breaching coronavirus public health orders, and traffic offences.
Mr Patterson’s website John 8 acts as a resource for anti-mask conspiracy theorists, including the script they read out to police, and the dubious legal argument behind it.
‘I want to help people learn the Truth so they can become strong, not just with knowledge, but with the mindset of a warrior,’ it reads
He also posts numerous videos on Facebook airing his views, including one where he went to a supermarket without a mask in the hope of provoking reactions.
ANTI-MASKERS’ DUBIOUS ‘LEGAL’ ARGUMENTS DEBUNKED
By Nic White for Daily Mail Australia
Groups opposing lockdowns, mask wearing, and police authority in general rely on a series of dubious arguments that are easily discredited:
Rules are ‘directives’ not ‘laws’
A common theme to infuriating exchanges with police is that the public health orders are invalid because Parliament never approved them.
They claim such ‘directives’ can only be enforced by ‘consent’ and thus can be ignored at will.
However, the Public Health and Wellbeing Act of 2008 does give state governments and their chief health officers power to impose restrictions.
Section 200 of the act explicitly states they can can restrict movement or ‘give any other direction that the authorised officer considers is reasonably necessary to protect public health’.
These powers kick in when a state of emergency is declared by the state government, which Premier Daniel Andrews did in Victoria on March 16.
Extra powers kick in when a state of emergency is declared by the state government, which Premier Daniel Andrews did in Victoria on March 16
Section 193 of the act allows for stay at home directions, which Deputy Chief Health Officer Finn Romanes enacted on July 22.
This directive also covers the wearing of face masks, as it states people can only leave their house while wearing one – exceptions notwithstanding.
Victoria also passed its own COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 to strengthen these emergency powers.
State of emergency is invalid
Some conspiracy theorists claim the state of emergency shouldn’t have been imposed in the first place.
They quote what they believe to be the conditions that must be established, including that a deadly pathogen must be present around the country.
As they deny the seriousness of Covid-19, they declare there is ‘no deadly virus’ in Australia.
The 167 Australians who have died from coronavirus, and their families, would beg to differ.
Police don’t have authority to enforce orders
Many of the video feature coronavirus deniers refusing to answer police questions or give their details.
They make bizarre appeals to common law overriding state legislation, which are discussed at the end of this article.
Again, the Public Health and Wellbeing Act of 2008 comes into play as it empowers health officials to ask police for help enforcing directives.
Police officers can usually only ask for someone’s details if they are committing a crime or are reasonably believed to be about to be.
But the Act extends this to investigating, eliminating or reducing the risk to public health.
Police can also detain anyone deemed a ‘serious risk to public health’, so long as they are warned that refusal to comply would lead to their arrest.
‘We will not hesitate to issue fines to people who are obviously and blatantly showing a disregard for community safety by failing to wear a mask,’ Victorian Police said on July 26.
‘Police are working incredibly hard to keep the community safe and this type of behaviour is unacceptable and unnecessary.’
Police are violating human rights
Conspiracy theorists make frequent reference to the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This does not actually create any laws, it is just an undertaking to preserve and protect human rights around the world.
What rights citizens do have are in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act.
This compels Parliament to balance any infringement on human rights, as laid down in the act, and produce a ‘statement of compatibility’.
This balancing act is known as ‘proportionality testing’ and weighs, in this case, forcing people to wear masks with the threat of illness and death.
Parliament took this into account when passing the Public Health and Wellbeing Act of 2008, and health officials have done the same this year.
Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton even explained on Tuesday that human rights laws enshrined the right to exercise during lockdown.
‘They are entitled to exercise within their home and their garden, ideally. People who have no garden and have no other option, have a right to exercise,’ he said.
‘The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is pretty clear that if you aren’t giving people an option to exercise then you are effectively putting them in prison and that’s not something that can be done for a case of coronavirus or for anyone else for that matter.’
Mr Andrews has very little time for human rights arguments, pointing out that not dying of coronavirus is a rather important right.
‘Seriously, one more comment about human rights – honestly. It is about human life,’ he said.
‘If we continue with this stuff, standing in the car park of Bunnings reading whatever nonsense you have pulled up from some obscure website…’
Mr Andrews later apologised for losing his cool, but reiterated that police were doing what needed to be done.
‘[Police] are trying to be as fair as they possibly can be,’ he said, ‘but if you’re just making a selfish choice based on your belief, your personal belief, quoting something you’ve read on some website, it’s not about human rights.’
Even Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser isn’t giving the conspiracy theorists any cover.
‘Being required to wear a mask in public in Melbourne does not breach human rights,’ he said.
‘It’s a very small limit on personal freedom for a very good reason; saving lives and protecting public health. There are sensible exceptions set out in the rules.
‘Those who claim their rights are being breached are wrong.’
Businesses are discriminating by requiring masks before entry
Some anti-maskers have accused businesses of being in breach of anti-discrimination laws by refusing them entry.
Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott said he stood behind the Bunnings workers in the video
The problem with this argument is that all the other regulations around mask wearing aren’t even relevant because businesses have the right refuse entry at their discretion.
Rick Sarre, the Adjunct Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at the University of South Australia, says Australian businesses have the right to require customers to wear face masks.
‘Australian law, quite simply, says that private landowners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property,’ he wrote in The Conversation.
‘So it would be legal for businesses – including cafes and supermarkets – to make it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands.’
Ms Nash claims she has a medical exemption to wearing a mask, which she never specified.
If she had produced proof of this, the whole situation could have been avoided.
Why these people are dangerous
Associate Professor Luke Beck Monash University’s law faculty said the group appeared to be an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement.
‘These people make these kinds of pseudo-legal arguments, usually to try and get out of parking fines or paying council rates or things like that,’ he told SBS.
‘Some of these people think if you utter particular words or emphasise particular ‘facts’, it will somehow get you out of things.’
This is problematic for functioning society at the best of times, but University of Melbourne law Associate Professor Jonathan Liberman said it was downright dangerous during a pandemic.
‘These people are trying to encourage others to do things that put people’s health at risk and that will ultimately lead to these restrictions being in place for a lot longer,’ he said.
‘They are also promoting a rejection of the rule of law and a rejection of a harmonious society.’