A Victorian driver who was pulled over at a lockdown checkpoint argued with police for 20 minutes about the legality of the operation, before claiming COVID-19 was not contagious and refusing to hand over his licence.
James Bartolo shared footage of the altercation on Facebook on Sunday after he was pulled over at a routine checkpoint while travelling in an unregistered Mustang.
He refused to hand over his licence – which police later learned was suspended – and eventually told the officers that they’d pulled him over unlawfully by following ‘dopey Dan’s false legislation’, in reference to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Mr Bartolo revealed he did not believe coronavirus was contagious and argued that it was a hoax.
The deadly respiratory infection has killed 109 Australians – and at least 571,000 worldwide – and Victoria is currently grappling with a second outbreak.
Police stop and question drivers at a checkpoint on July 8, 2020 in Albury near the NSW-Victoria border
Premier Daniel Andrews has issued a plea to all Victorians to follow the latest lockdown rules, as the state recorded 273 new cases and another death
Mr Andrews ordered metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire back into a second lockdown in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.
‘Who consented to that?’ Mr Bartolo asked the officers when they attempted to explain what it is they were doing. ‘Go arrest your Freemason scumbag leaders and politicans.’
‘Do your actual jobs rather than harassing innocent people like me. Stop being an embarrassment to society,’ he said.
‘You’ve pulled me over unlawfully and started to claim… that I’ve done something wrong. I’m not the one standing around with weapons and harassing people and pulling them over according to dopey Dan’s false legislation.’
Police first questioned Mr Bartolo for driving an unregistered car, to which he vehemently denied and repeatedly insisted the car was roadworthy.
James Bartolo shared footage of the altercation on Facebook on Sunday after he was pulled over at a routine checkpoint while travelling in an unregistered Mustang
Police issued 119 fines in the 24 hours to Sunday to people breaking lockdown rules in Melbourne. Pictured: People get in their government-mandated exercise at the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on Sunday
He eventually revealed he had not paid what he described as a ‘corporation fee’ to register the car, but argued that as long as his licence plates were in the system, his car was registered.
‘It’s not unregistered. Vic Roads is a corporation. At most, [its a] fail to pay a civil fee, a corporate fee. It’s all registered in your system, you have the plates in your system, the corporation fee hasn’t been paid, that’s it,’ he said.
Mr Bartolo took issue with other comments the officers made, willing to argue the semantics of most of the conversation.
When asked whether he understood what he was being told by officers, he said no.
‘For your reference, I don’t understand anything you say because that means to stand under your authority,’ he said.
He confirmed that he did comprehend the message, though.
Mr Bartolo (pictured) revealed he did not believe coronavirus was contagious and argued that it was a hoax
COVID-19 checkpoints have been set up in and around Victoria in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus
Mr Bartolo went on to begin ranting about the officers’ role in facilitating the COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria.
‘Do you know the virus isn’t actually contagious?’ he asked. ‘That has been scientifically proven.
‘This whole COVID-19 is a f**king hoax. It’s a scam.’
The leader of the ‘Conscious Truth Network’ told police they’d been encouraged to set up the checkpoints under ‘false allegations’ made by the nation’s leaders.
‘There are false allegations that there is some virus going around that’s killed 100 people so the whole country has been put in lockdown.
‘Surely you’re intelligent enough to think that’s a total load of bullsh*t’.
The officers refused to engage in the rhetoric, instead asking Mr Bartolo to step out of his Mustang.
COVID-19 checkpoints have been set up in and around Victoria in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus. Mr Bartolo argued they should not be legal and there was no consultation with the people before establishing them
The leader of the ‘Conscious Truth Network’ told police they’d been encouraged to set up the checkpoints under ‘false allegations’ made by the nation’s leaders in an extraordinary 20 minute debate
‘If you try to pull me out I’ll charge you all. Armed kidnap, armed assault, armed robbery. And I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to completely destroy your careers when we take this to court,’ he responded.
Mr Bartolo repeatedly refused to provide police any of his personal information, arguing that he had not committed a crime therefore officers had no reason to ask.
Eventually, the officer said he would be arrested for failing to provide his details.
‘That’s false arrest,’ Mr Bartolo hit back. ‘You’ll be getting a schedule of fees because false arrest will be $10,000 and $100 for every minute after that because now you’re acting as a private civilian.
‘You’re armed. You’re a constable. Your only job is to protect the peace and keep the peace. I am not disturbing the peace.’
Frustration mounted between both parties as another police officer joined the discussion and instructed Mr Bartolo to pull over to the side to let other cars behind him through.
Mr Bartolo refused to hand over his licence – which police later learned was suspended – and eventually told the officers that they’d pulled him over unlawfully by following ‘dopey Dan’s false legislation’, in reference to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured)
There are 237 cases linked to public housing blocks in Flemington and North Melbourne
The officers eventually gave their word to let Mr Bartolo continue on his way if he provided his full name and address for them to send the fines and court appearance notices through.
‘Okay, I’ll comply with that,’ he said. ‘As long as I have your word if I give you those details that I’ll be free to go.’
In response, the officer on duty said: ‘Yep, absolutely. You’ll absolutely be able to go on your way.’
Moments later, the footage cut out. Mr Bartolo told his followers about a minute or two passed before the camera started rolling again.
When the camera turned back on, the officer revealed Mr Bartolo was also driving with a suspended licence.
The officers ask Mr Bartolo to again step out of the car, and one of the cops informs him that he will not be able to continue driving.
A man in his 70s died and another 273 cases of coronavirus have been identified in Victoria on Sunday as the state is gripped by a second wave of the disease
A cleaner dressed in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) leaves the Crossroads Hotel in Sydney’s south west
‘If you try to take my car, I’ll take you both to court and prosecute you with the full power of the law. That’s what I do. And I’ll win. I’ll absolutely win. And I don’t want to do that. Lets both avoid that unnecessary trouble,’ Mr Bartolo said.
He argued that he did not know his licence had been suspended and said he never appeared in court for that matter.
‘You don’t have to have your licence suspended by court. It can be suspended by penalty notice or by court,’ the officer said.
Mr Bartolo said he wanted to see ‘the actual acts… according to you where it says that.
‘Let me read it over. If you’re trying to enforce that. You can’t just enforce that and not have any paper work to back you up because then you’re acting as individuals, you’re acting as private civilians that are armed.’
A resident of the Pampas Street Public Housing complex in North Melbourne waves from the front door as the easing of lockdown restrictions is announced
He was told that while he was free to leave on foot, the car had to be left behind.
Mr Bartolo continued to argue that he was not informed his licence had been suspended, but when officers pulled up his driving history and informed him of an ‘excessive speed infringement’, he changed his tune.
Instead, Mr Bartolo produced a letter that he wrote in response to receiving an infringement notice for speeding explaining why it was unlawful to suspend his licence.
Police doubled down on their stance, again insisting Mr Bartolo was free to go to appear in court at a later date as long as he did so on foot.
‘No,’ Mr Bartolo said.
‘I do not consent to getting out of my car that I own to travel along the roads that I own – who paid for these roads? Taxpayer money. Why would you have the authority to do that?
‘If I was causing harm, driving recklessly, going to hurt someone, fair enough I agree with you. If i was on drugs or something, sure absolutely. But that is not the case.’
Eventually, the officer conceded.
The cop explained to Mr Bartolo that he would be charged for further offences relating to hindering an officer in performing his job, but then allowed him to leave.
A sanitation worker cleans a bench outside the single remaining public housing tower under a lockdownin Melbourne