When does ‘enforcing health orders’ become Police Brutality?

Can we empathise with the police?


Tensions in NSW have reached a boiling point with the idea of vaccine passports becoming a reality. Citizens who refuse to get double vaccinated now face forced resignation, dismissal and refused entry into venues – which has become lawful under new public health orders. 

As a result, protests with thousands in attendance began to break out. Protesters were labelled as ‘right wing extremist’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ by mainstream media sources in order to discredit their legitimacy in the eyes of the public. 

In actuality, they were civilians refusing to comply with coercive medical intervention. 

This marginalization then resulted in further protesting and heightened tensions between Australia’s non-compliant segment of the population and the police. 

What we see in the video above is an example of the abhorrent police response seen across the country. Why have the NSW and Victorian police force deemed this to be the appropriate response to a non-compliant citizen? 

In the first clip shown in the video above, we can see the taller man, non-aggressively talking with a group of police officers. Presumably, in regards to a refusal to comply with public health orders.

We can only assume one of the police officers has come to the consensus that this man must be arrested, and cannot simply be issued a fine and left alone. Another male police officer is called to the scene. This police officer deems it appropriate to render the non-compliant man unconscious, via slamming him face first into the ground. This action could have resulted in severe injury or death. 

This then begs the question, why was this course of action deemed the most appropriate response? From what we can tell, the man was not armed, nor aggressive – merely, non-compliant with state health orders. 

Let us attempt to empathize with this police officer. 

  1. Was he fed inaccurate information? Did the surrounding officers tell him that the man was aggressive or had a weapon?
  2. Does the police officer have a medically diagnosed problem with aggression? If so, why is he allowed to continue serving as a public servant? 
  3. Does this police officer believe that this non-compliant individual is truly a threat to public safety? That the risk of this individual spreading COVID-19, not wearing a mask, or not complying with health orders outweighs the risk of injuring or killing him. 
  4. Does this officer believe that he had to make an example of this non-compliant individual, with the goal of discouraging other members of the public from breaking public health orders?
  5. Did the non-compliant individual threaten this man or his colleagues, friends or family? 
  6. Does the police officer suffer from anxiety? Thus resulting in him panicking in the face of conflict.

If the police officer in question was to answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, would you then say that slamming the man unconscious was an appropriate response? I would bet that the majority of individuals reading this would say no. 

According to nsw.gov.au, the penalty for a ‘breach of the public health order’ is a $1000 fine, with a possible $500 dollar fine for a ‘failure to comply with a direction to wear a mask’. No where on the New South Wales or Victorian government websites does it state, failure to comply with public health orders shall result in excessive use of force at cost of possible injury or death to a civilian. 

The police officers in the above clips can no longer distinguish between criminals and civilians. Between those wishing to do harm to others, and those refusing to comply with public health orders, but pose no physical threat. The police officers are simply reading situations based on ‘good person = complies’, bad person = ‘doesn’t comply’. They have taken the law into their own hands, and have become judge, jury and executioner. 


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