- Zoe Buhler, 28, was handcuffed in her lounge room in front of her children
- She had created a Facebook event organising a protest in Ballarat, Victoria
- Police arrested her and she was charged with incitement in September 2020
- ‘Freedom Day’ event called for people to protest against the lockdown
- Victorian prosecutors gave no explanation as to why it withdrew the charge
- Ms Buhler lashed out at Premier Dan Andrews, branding him a tyrant
A mother who was pregnant when she was handcuffed and arrested in her own home over a Facebook post allegedly inciting an anti-lockdown protest in Victoria has had the charge sensationally dropped.
Zoe Lee Buhler, 30, was handcuffed in her lounge room in front of her children and partner in September 2020 and charged with incitement.
On Tuesday, two years after she became the face of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ lockdown lunacy, prosecutors fronted Ballarat Magistrates’ Court to quietly withdraw the charge.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia it had been withdrawn in ‘the public interest’.
‘Victoria Police has withdrawn the single charge of incitement against a 30-year-old Miners Rest woman.
‘This follows an individual assessment of the case where it was determined that it was not in the public interest to continue with the prosecution,’ a statement read.
Several officers had entered Ms Buhler’s house in Miners Rest, Ballarat, northwest of Melbourne, with a search warrant and began reading the young mother her rights.
‘Excuse me, incitement for what, what on Earth? I’m in my pyjamas, my two kids are here,’ Ms Buhler said upon her arrest.
‘I have an ultrasound in an hour because I’m pregnant.’
After all of the tyranny he’s put us through, you know, just to be held accountable for his actions. It would be beautiful to see
Ms Buhler’s alleged offending post linked to a ‘Freedom Day Ballarat’ event she created for that weekend.
At the time, country Victorians were in the midst of another Stage 3 lockdown, which restricted movement.
‘Anyone from Ballarat please join us in our fight for freedom and human rights!’ Ms Buhler wrote with a link to the event page.
The increasingly distressed mother had insisted she wasn’t breaking any laws by creating and then promoting the event.
‘Actually you are, that’s why we’re arresting you in relation to incitement,’ police replied.
Ms Buhler offered to delete the post as her boyfriend James Timmins tried to mediate while cradling their infant child in his arms.
‘How about she just doesn’t do the event? It’s not like she’s done it, she made a post,’ he said.
Police were unmoved, telling her: ‘You’ve already committed the offence.’
Ms Buhler was distressed by this point and crying so much she could barely tell officers that she ‘didn’t realise’ she was ‘doing anything wrong’ in making the online event.
Police said they would seize all electronic devices in the house including those belonging to Mr Timmins and Ms Buhler’s sister.
Ms Buhler was later charged with incitement and released on bail.
On Monday, Ms Buhler, now aged 30, lashed out at Mr Andrews as she walked free from court.
‘My message for Dan Andrews would be that I hope one day that you’ll have your day in court,’ she said.
‘After all of the tyranny he’s put us through, you know, just to be held accountable for his actions. It would be beautiful to see.’
Ms Buhler said her ordeal had deeply impacted her life over a period of time that saw Victorians restricted to their homes for longer than any other population on the planet.
The court heard the Office of Public Prosecutions, headed by Kerri Judd, QC, would pay Ms Buhler’s legal costs over the disgraceful prosecution.
‘The strain on my mental health. I believe I have experienced (post traumatic stress disorder), especially when I see police officers and stuff,’ Ms Buhler said.
‘Dealing with my children, you know not understanding why mummy was arrested. We all want our kids to run up to police if they need police, but you know things like this have made people, especially children, scared of police … get the bad guys, not the good guys.’
Ms Buhler said she has not ruled out pursuing civil action against Victoria Police and the State Government over her treatment.
The mother of three described Victoria Police’s pursuit of her as ‘ridiculous’.
‘They dragged it out for so long. I’ll be considering my options going forward, especially in regards to being handcuffed while pregnant,’ she said.
The withdrawal of charges by Ms Judd against Ms Buhler are the latest in a growing list of supposed ‘lockdown rebels’ being let off the hook.
In July Jemal Abazi walked free from court almost two years after he was charged for encouraging Dandenong locals to walk together for their allotted one-hour period of exercise during Victoria’s second hard lockdown in August 2020.
Journalist Monica Smit had her charges withdrawn just weeks earlier.
The vocal anti-vaxxer had spent 22 days in jail after refusing to comply with a series of bail conditions which were later scrapped by the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Retired pensioner Solihin Millin also had his charges dropped in July after being charged for inciting the ‘Freedom Rally’ at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance in September 2020.
The 78-year old had been charged with inciting others to protest.
Tens of thousands of ordinary Victorians were fined by a militant Victoria Police during the state’s six hard lockdowns.
In May, a state budget estimates inquiry heard more than 50,000 fines were handed to Victorians for breaching Covid-19 restrictions, but half had not been paid.
Of those, almost 40,000 were issued for ‘general breaches’ and another 1,723 fines for ‘illegal gatherings’.
WHY POLICE ARRESTED MUM IN PJS
Ms Buhler’s event coincided with what ‘coronavirus conspiracy theorists’ and general anti-lockdown activists had dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.
Similar events had popped up around Melbourne as anger grew over its draconian Stage Four lockdowns.
Police had vowed to quash the protests after weekend demonstrations in Dandenong and had arrested several other organisers.
Three police officers even came to the door of a woman in southeast Melbourne and warned her about the possibility of incitement charges.
She had hours earlier made Facebook and Instagram posts encouraging Melburnians to take their allowed one hour of exercise at the same time.
Ms Buhler’s ‘peaceful protest’ even stressed that attendees follow restrictions like wearing masks and social distancing ‘so we don’t get arrested’.
‘As some of you may have seen, the government has gone to extreme measures and are using scare tactics through the media to prevent the Melbourne protest,’ the event page read.
‘Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those is Stage Four lockdowns. We can be seen and hopefully make a difference!
‘End lockdowns! Stand for human rights! We live in a free country!’
Protesters had been described by Victoria Police assistant commissioner Luke Cornelius as ‘crazies’.
Sources have told Daily Mail Australia both Victoria Police and the Andrews Government are determined to limit the legal fallout of the lockdowns leading up to an election.
Just weeks ago Victoria Police paid a settlement worth tens of thousands of dollars to a news photographer who was pepper-sprayed twice in the face by officers while covering an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne last year.
A man head-slammed into the concrete by a sergeant at Flinders Street Station last September is also expected to settle out of court for more than a $1million.
In March, a police informer told the Herald Sun police lawyers opened the bidding with a $300,000 offer to compensate the injured man — compared with the usual $50,000 usually touted at the start of a negotiated damages settlement.
The number of payouts provided by Victoria Police to victims of its heavy handed policing during the pandemic will likely remain a mystery.
In September last year, officers stormed Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance armed to the teeth with gas grenades, pepper spray and rubber bullets.
It had not been the first time the use of non-lethal projectiles had been used against the people, often causing not only damage to bodies, but to vehicles and other property in the process.
Melbourne Activist Legal Support expressed its concerns over the use of such force before the Shrine protest even happened.
‘Victorian police officers do not have unrestrained power to use weapons or any other force on members of the public. Any use of force must be reasonable, necessary, and proportionate to the threat faced and in accordance with legal requirements found in legislation,’ it stated at the time.
A recent Roy Morgan Snap SMS Poll suggested Labor will win another term with 59.5 per cent of votes on a two-party preferred basis.
Angry Alan Jones backed up Zoe Lee
Radio king-turned Sky News pundit Alan Jones was so enraged by seeing the video of Ms Buhler’s arrest that he called on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to resign.
He posted this comment to his Facebook page after seeing the video after Daily Mail Australia was the first to publish it.
DANIEL ANDREWS SHOULD RESIGN TONIGHT
Thankfully I am not the only Australian who thinks this is appalling, disgusting and disgraceful.
A pregnant woman, forced into tears, handcuffed in her pyjamas, in front of her children, I think it is in Ballarat, for ‘incitement’.
The only person guilty of incitement is the Premier of Victoria.
His outlandish grab for power, his disdain of any accountability is forcing people to behaviour simply designed to take back their freedom.
This woman is a victim of the appalling and unlimited powers given to the Victorian police.
Everyone knew it would come to this. You can only push people so far.
Wherein lies the violence in what you see here? The violence towards a pregnant mother is the like of which no Australian will tolerate.
Go Daniel Andrews and go now before more damage is done.