A coronavirus conspiracy leader was dramatically arrested on Melbourne's streets the day before the anti-lockdown protests his group had promoted.
James Bartolo was arrested at his Melbourne home Friday morning after four police officers knocked down his door when he refused to open it.
The former bodybuilder was handcuffed on the floor of his living room within seconds of the police break-in.
He is expected to become the fifth protest organizer to be charged with incitement after a series of posts and videos on Thursday evening.
Former bodybuilder James Bartolo is a key figure in conspiracy theory, lecturing on a wide range of topics and organizing followers. He was arrested for incitement
Bartolo filmed the two detectives and two uniformed officers from his balcony when they arrived at his unit with a search warrant.
He told them they were not allowed to enter the property, even though the arrest warrant said they could enter forcefully if necessary.
“You are entering the house illegally and you are charged. If you break something, you will be prosecuted, ”he called to the officers.
The detective in charge, however, was in no mood to entertain Bartolo's bizarre pseudo-legal belief that the police have no power over him.
"Open the door or I'll force it, I'm not playing a game," he shouted.
"You had all the options in the world, James, will you open the door, yes or no?"
Bartolo filmed the two detectives and two uniformed officers from his balcony as they arrived at his unit with a search warrant and slammed his door when he refused to open it
Bartolo was running down the stairs when the knock on the door got louder and was just arriving as the police broke into his unit. He was then arrested in a fight on the floor of his living room
Bartolo protested that he was in the bathroom when the officers knocked on his door and asked them to tell him what was going on.
He still refused when they tried to explain that he was suspected of incitement, which he denied, saying he told people not to go to protest.
"Get out of my shit, don't break my things, you King," he yelled as the police began to tear down his door with a battering ram.
Bartolo was running down the stairs when the knock on the door got louder and was just arriving as the police broke into his unit.
Officers yelled at him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back while they grabbed and handcuffed him.
Bartolo heads the Conscious Truth Network group on Facebook, which is a center for a long list of conspiracy theories.
Planned protests for "Freedom Day" on Saturday are regularly discussed and promoted by Bartolo and his students on the group side.
Contrary to Bartolo's claims that he told people not to attend on Saturday, a video on Thursday night said the opposite.
"I suggest, if you're thinking of going or not … just go," he said.
In the same video, he gave protesters tips on how to behave on Saturday, including avoiding the police and complying with regulations.
Bartolo claimed he was not involved in organizing the protest, which in his opinion was "terribly" planned and the following had to be done much better.
James Bartolo from Melbourne started the Facebook group The Conscious Truth Network on June 1st
He then showed a map of Melbourne with the proposed Shrine of Remembrance protest location, which he believes will be so full of cops that no one will get inside.
Instead, he said he would "keep a safe distance from the police at all times" and protest in other areas.
"I don't want to meet them, I don't want to talk to them, and I wouldn't recommend anyone do that because they probably won't be very nice that day," he said.
Bartolo then drew a line on the map where he believes he is walking from the shrine via the CBD, staying 100 m from the police at all times.
He told viewers that if the police cursed them, they would be peacefully arrested and get people to film it.
"I was arrested at the first protest, handcuffed, they put me in the van for three minutes, got my name and details, and let me go," he said.
"But when people start resisting and fighting back, people get hurt," he said.
“I know it is very frustrating to comply with royal tyranny, but we want to be as effective as possible, we want to make it look as stupid as possible.
"We want to look peaceful and wake up as many people as possible and bring them to these protests and future protests and on our side against this tyrannical force posing as government."
Bartolo discussed confusion and debate within the conspiracy community as to whether the protest should be postponed or pushed forward.
He said the postponement talk was due to the lockdown being scheduled to end on September 13, but then the draft roadmap was leaked stating it would be extended.
He said the thought is now that public opinion is now more supportive because the lockdown is being extended.
"Well, fuck it, let's go on the 5th … I'm not saying let's go because I'm not an organizer, I'm going on the 5th," he said.
Hours later, he posted another video saying he would still go to the protest, but a more organized event was anonymously created for September 13th.
"I think doing it on the 13th, if the roadmap gets properly revealed, is a much, much better idea, but I'll still go to the 5th," he said.
Bartolo encouraged everyone who attended the later protest to purchase a Guy Fawkes mask or one with the face of Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews within the next week.
Bartolo later said the Saturday protest had been canceled and people should attend on September 13 instead.
Early Friday morning, other anti-lockdown leaders urged people not to leave on September 5th because it was a "facility".
"The fifth is literally an establishment that the army will be involved in and that will likely end badly not only for everyone in attendance but for the wider community if these people are wrongly used to us to divide further, "they claimed.
"We will not knowingly send people into this situation, and I personally refuse to be used as a farmer by an incompetent leader to hurt my loved ones when they have absolutely nothing left."
The Conscious Truth Network reveals that Bartolo believes the moon landing was fake, vaccines are harmful, and a laundry list of more than 20 other bizarre beliefs.
His frequent videos raise the question of whether the coronavirus is contagious and describe the pandemic as a scam aimed at creating a cashless society.
Bartolo made headlines in July when he was stopped at a checkpoint and spent 20 minutes discussing the legality of the operation using the infamous script with police.
He then claimed COVID-19 was not contagious and refused to hand over his license.
Mr Bartolo continued to rant about the role of officials in easing the COVID-19 lockdown in Victoria.
"Do you know the virus is not really contagious?" he asked. & # 39; That has been scientifically proven.
'This whole COVID-19 is a joke. It's a scam. & # 39;
Bartolo called Prime Minister Scott Morrison a "dictator" in July for imposing bans and other restrictions during the pandemic.
“Forcing someone to do something they don't want violates their freedom. He's the furthest from a true leader, ”he said in a video.
& # 39; This virus has also been shown to be non-contagious. If it were so, there would be an extraordinary number of cases with God. & # 39;
Mr Bartolo runs the Conscious Truth Network, a hardcore conspiracy Facebook group that looks into pages that reveal he believes the moon landing was fake, vaccines are harmful, and a laundry list of 20+ other bizarre beliefs
Bartolo used the Conscious Truth Network to raise funds and request $ 50 for a seven-day course to convert them into "Truth Attorneys".
The week-long program teaches them how to create their own videos and become “voices of reason” in their communities and online.
"We are at war," he says in a video posted in the group promoting his course.
“How can we win this? I'm just one person That's why I think it's so important that as many people as people use their platform. & # 39;
“That's why I created this trust challenge. Don't worry about the haters, there is no salvation for them. & # 39;
It also has a goods store that sells hoodies, vests, and t-shirts with the Conscious Truth Network name and logo.
Bartolo has invited his 3,800+ followers to take part in a week-long program to learn how to create their own videos and become "voices of reason" in their communities and online
Bartolo describes himself on his personal website, which depicts him as an almost messianic figure, as a "seeker of truth" and a "freedom fighter".
"I've always known that something terrible was wrong with the world, and from a young age I was sure that I would have an impact on repairing this broken planet," it says.
“My personal mission is to wake people up and together do justice to the corrupt, twisted and sick people, corporations and corporations that have caused such massive damage to the people of this world.
"After justice is fulfilled, we can focus on creating the world in which we all like to live together peacefully."