Tense moment Victorian cops confiscate a ‘free Melbourne’ sign from two friends out for a walk because ‘you don’t have the right to protest’ during Stage Four lockdown

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Tense moment Victorian cops confiscate a ‘free Melbourne’ sign from two friends out for a walk because ‘you don’t have the right to protest’ during Stage Four lockdown.

By NIC WHITE FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA

  • Two Melburnians went for a walk in their local park following all lockdown rules
  • Decided to scribble a ‘free Melbourne’ sign and carry it, but cops stopped them
  • Police said carrying the sign was a sign of protest, and protesting was banned

Victorian police snatched a sign reading ‘free Melbourne’ from two friends out for a walk, saying protesting was banned during lockdown.

Officers demanded the pair throw the sign away despite complying with all the lockdown rules.

Both men were wearing gloves and masks, walking in the allowed group of two, and said they were within 5km of their homes this weekend.

 

However, the female police officer told them the sign was in itself illegal and they would be breaking the law if they didn’t bin it.

‘You don’t need to exercise with that sign, because that to me is indicating that you’re about to protest and that’s illegal,’ she said in the video.

‘So I’m going to ask you to throw the sign away.’


Both men were wearing gloves and masks, walking in the allowed group of two, and said they were within 5km of their homes this weekend

The pair questioned whether it was really illegal for them to simply hold a sign while going for their walk.

‘Yes, because obviously it’s a sign of protest and it’s illegal,’ the officer replied.

The pair argued it wasn’t illegal to protest, only to gather which they were not doing as there was only two of them.

‘I’m not going to argue the point, you either put [the sign] in the bin or I will,’ the policewoman insisted.

‘At this point in time you don’t have the right to protest… not in this current health pandemic.’

Another video showed police letting the men leave without a fine once they had confiscated the sign.

A friend of the pair posted the footage on social media.

‘They were not even “protesting” – halfway through their permitted exercise they decided to scribble it on a piece of cardboard, almost facetiously,’ she wrote.

‘There are no photos because the police officers forcibly removed the sign from their hands and threw it in the bin.’

Melburnians are allowed to exercise in groups of two within 5km of their homes for two hours a day. The 9pm curfew was lifted on Monday.

Melburnians are allowed to exercise in groups of two within 5km of their homes for two hours a day. The 9pm curfew was lifted on Monday.

The female police officer (right) told them the sign was in itself illegal and they would be breaking the law if they didn't bin it

 

Protest organisers have been charged with incitement, but they were allegedly advocating for mass demonstrations.

Victoria Police said leaving home and gathering for the purpose of protest remains a breach of the chief health officer’s directions.

‘Police will continue to issue fines for deliberate, obvious and blatant breaches of the CHO directions and maintain the right to exercise direction where appropriate,’ it said.

Melburnians are allowed to exercise 5km from their homes, but if the main purpose of the trip is to protest then it becomes illegal.

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