By Brendan Rees
A group of people have thumbed their noses at authorities by gathering at a Cranbourne gym to purportedly discuss coronavirus theories.
Eva Black, who recently filmed herself breaching a police checkpoint and labelled the pandemic as a “SCAMdemic” on social media, was a key speaker at the meeting at The Combat Athlete gym on Sunday 26 July.
One attendee, who Star News has chosen not to name, posted a photo of the gathering showing about 50 people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with no apparent effort to practice social distancing or wearing masks, rules that are in force under stage three restrictions.
“A great night together discussing the putrid conduct of the police, government and media lies,” he wrote.
“We are strong and won’t bow down to these oppressors.”
“Eva Black thank you for sharing your experience with us and how the Mainstream 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.”
Black posted a reply message, saying “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.”
“Much love to all and God Bless,” she wrote.
The Facebook page revealed the group meets at 6pm on Saturdays.
Others also commented on the attendee’s post praising the group’s actions with one writing “We must stand up we must stick together”.
“It was so amazing to be in a room full of people who support and celebrate me during this tough time,” another wrote.
The owner of the gym, who did not give his name, said he couldn’t “really comment” when asked about the meeting.
“I don’t know and if I did I probably wouldn’t say it to someone I don’t know,” he said.
Asked whether the gym had been issued a fine, a Victoria Police spokesman said police would not be “providing comment on individual incidents”.
However, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner of regional operations Rick Nugent said he was alarmed by the behaviour of those who “blatantly” chose to disregard the rules “on the insistence their human rights being breached”.
“It seems these people are more interested in notoriety and getting likes on social media than the health and wellbeing of their fellow Victorians,” he said.
At a press conference on Monday 27 July Premier Daniel Andrews took aim at those flouting strict coronavirus rules saying: “Seriously, one more comment about human rights – honestly. It is about human life.”
“The thing with conspiracy theorists, the more you engage in an argument with them, the more oxygen you are giving them,” he said.
Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre said the order to wear masks was not a breach of human rights.
Casey Council chair of administrators Noelene Duff said it was “extremely disappointing and concerning” to see people breaching lockdown restrictions “when many of us are working hard to reduce the spread and protect our community”.
“To ensure we prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect all community members, residents are advised to only refer to trusted information sources, such as the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or other Australian Government sources,” Ms Duff said.
To report a non-compliance behaviour call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444, or lodge a report online: https://www.police.vic.gov.au/palolr