Anti-mask conspiracy theorists pack Melbourne gym

Hundreds of people queue outside an Australian government welfare centre, Centrelink, in Melbourne on March 23, 2020. William West | AFP via Getty Images. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MELBOURNE, Jul 27, 2020, News.com.au. A large group of conspiracy theorist have gathered in Melbourne, with a woman who filmed herself driving through a police checkpoint a key speaker at the event, News.com.au reported.

Eve Black calls the pandemic a “SCAMdemic” on social media and uploaded a video of her interaction with officers at a lockdown checkpoint last week, drawing widespread criticism.

She spoke at the large conspiracy theory gathering at Cranbourne gym, The Combat Athlete, on Sunday night.

One attendee posted a photo of the meeting on Facebook which showed the group was not social distancing or wearing masks, a rule in Melbourne’s locked down areas.

“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.

“Eve 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.”

Ms Black responded: “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.”

The group reportedly meets every Saturday at 6pm, part of a broader movement of “sovereign citizens” who use the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act to challenge police powers.

Ms Black told police she didn’t need to say where she was going when she was stopped at a checkpoint, reading from a pre-prepared script being circulated on social media, before driving off.

Ms Black’s actions have been roundly condemned by politicians and health experts, but she has no regrets about her public stunt, positing a message on her Facebook page saying “I regret nothing. I’m just tired of the abuse and threats. Wake up, sleeper” with the emoji of a sheep.

Her video is one of a number circulating showing Melburnians subject to a stage 3 lockdown flouting the rules, with the encouragement and support of a conspiracy group.

She is member of a social media page called The Conscious Truth Network, whose members have been sharing vision of their own checkpoint jumps.

James Bartolo, the leader of the conspiracy group, uploaded a video of himself arguing with officers for 20 minutes about whether their actions were legal.

He is encouraging Melburnians in lockdown to breach checkpoints, arguing it’s a violation of human rights.

Mr Bartolo regularly shares videos with his followers discussing the “plandemic” hoax, questioning whether COVID-19 is infectious, pushing 5G conspiracies and sharing his theory that coronavirus is part of a push towards a cashless society.

In one bizarre clip, he also questions whether the moon landing was faked.

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