Sydney pastor and mother who had her child torn away for breaching social distancing rules in May 2020 fight back.
A challenge to the government’s ability to shut down protests is currently being considered by the Supreme Court in New South Wales.
The challenge, funded by viewers of Rebel News, was launched after a Sydney Pastor and his friend were arrested and fined for breaching social distancing rules in May 2020.
At that time Sydney was locked down but private exercise was permitted, so Liverpool pastor Victor Tey established an “Exercise Your Rights” group.
The group, comprising a small number of people, did their permitted exercise outside Parliament House while holding anti-lockdown signs.
Pastor Tey and another exerciser, Renee Altakrity, were both arrested and fined during one of their exercise periods for breaching social distancing rules.
The arrest, captured on video, went viral when police manhandled Altakrity and separated her from her distraught four-year-old son.
“It’s been nearly three years, but you’ll never forget it,” she said, adding that her son was still traumatised by the events of that day.
“It was a moment where you sometimes have to pinch yourself. It doesn’t feel like it was reality.”
The case brought to the fore the government’s ability to unfairly restrict people’s movements and so Rebel News, with help from readers through our FightTheFines.com.au webpage, decided to fight back.
The pandemic may be over but the laws that enabled the government to criminalise people like Pastor Tey and Renee Altakrity remain on the statute books. We want them removed.
Arguments have now been presented to the court and we are awaiting a decision.
“We’ve given it everything that we’ve got. Thank you to everyone who supported us,” Pastor Tey said.
Managing partner of Lehman Walsh Lawyers, Jana Eighani, said she was hopeful that a positive outcome would secure people’s constitutional right to protest.
“We are here to challenge the constitutional limitations of the minister in exercising his power when it comes to laws that restrict people’s movements, in this case the right to protest,” she said.