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Australian law enforcers have arrested an expectant mother for allegedly planning a protest against the Covid-19 lockdown in the state of Victoria, drawing ire and accusations of thought policing online.

The Victoria Police descended on the woman’s house earlier in the day, presenting a search warrant and accusing her of “incitement” – ostensibly by making a Facebook post calling for a socially distanced rally against the quarantine measures across the state.

Videos of the 28-year-old – dressed in pajamas and visibly caught off-guard by the police intrusion – were widely shared on social media, showing her flanked and confronted by officers. One of them claims she broke the law “in relation to a Facebook post [and] in relation to the anti-lockdown protest,” while another puts the irons on her.

🤬🤬🤬 Twitter video of Zoe, a pregnant woman, being arrested, handcuffed and terrorised by Dan Andrews’ Totalitarian Victoria Police for a Facebook post, as she begs for mercy in front of her children.This needs to go viral.#Covid#Covid19pic.twitter.com/Fc86dQgjGV

“In front of my children!” she counters, adding, “I’m happy to delete the post, this is ridiculous.” The woman also pleads with the officer to let her undergo a scheduled ultrasound scan, but those words appear to fall on deaf ears.

Those viewing and sharing the video seemed to be astonished at the reason for the 28-year-old’s arrest. Some enraged online commentators went as far as to call it “full-blown fascism in Australia,” while others referred to Orwellian narratives.

“Free speech is dead in Australia,” one proclaimed, calling officers a “thought police unit.” 

As the day progressed, local media suggested the woman was organizing a “Freedom Day” protest rally on Facebook, scheduled to take place on Saturday. Now, she will have to stand trial at the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court in January next year.

Meanwhile, a controversial Liberal Party backbencher Craig Kelly, who staunchly opposes the lockdown, shared the video, saying it was “what you’d expect to see in Nazi Germany.”

The story comes as anti-lockdown sentiment, in response to the restrictions being heavy-handedly enforced across Melbourne and Victoria, is gaining traction. This weekend, a sizable cohort of protesters defied social distancing and mask-wearing rules. At one point, the gatherings descended into chaos and clashes with police, who made dozens of arrests. 

Victoria’s lockdown measures involve a nighttime curfew, enforced by police. During the day, residents are only allowed to go outside for limited shopping, exercise, working, or seeing a doctor.

Australia’s coronavirus tally is approaching 26,000; at least 663 Covid-19 patients have succumbed to the disease as of Wednesday. The lingering coronavirus epidemic has taken a toll on the Australian economy and jobs, with officials previously admitting the country has now entered a recession. 

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