A man who encouraged violence towards Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and reportedly told attendees in an encrypted text message to “bring out rifles and shotguns” has been charged.
According to court reports and a spokesperson for the counter-terrorism command, via The Age, a Melbourne man named Imre Pelyva has been charged with incitement to manufacture explosives.
Per the outlet, the man, who is believed to have a gun license, encouraged protesters to bring guns to anti-lockdown rallies through an encrypted messenger service. He also made a series of violent threats to end Andrews’ life.
“Someone need[s] to shoot Mr. Dan f— in the head with a .50 cal explosive tip! Just to make sure he[‘]s gone for life,” Pelyva said, before asking, “are we allowed to take firearms to the protest?”
When another member of the anti-lockdown messenger group suggested protesting outside Dan Andrews’ office in his suburban electorate, Pelyva reportedly offered to share his “proper address”. Attendees have previously threatened to leak the home address of other Labor MPs. According to The Age, he also allegedly shared a guide to making a homemade Molotov.
The protest has generally been affiliated with Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly’s political party United Australia Party but has also been attended by opposition MPs such as Bernie Finn, Craig Ondarchie, and shadow treasurer David Davis. Ondarchie publicly encouraged the protests in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
In response to *gestures above* all this, opposition leader Matthew Guy said that while “people who have different points of view in this debate should put those points of view respectfully and sensibly, there is no place for extremism of any kind”.
Victorian Police have also arrested Melbourne man Kenneth Panten, a neo-nazi who allegedly shared instructions on how to 3D print a gun, per The Age. Reportedly, he shared that link under a post related to the horrific Christchurch shooting. He has been charged with racial vilification and will face court next year.
In a press conference yesterday, Dan Andrews revealed that he’s received violent threats aimed at his wife Catherine and their children, too.
“There are some people who are threatening me, threatening my family,” Andrews confirmed in a press conference yesterday.
“Let me be really clear and the message is: I will not be deterred from the work I’m doing to keep every family safe.
“Debate is fine. The disagreement is fine, that is a part of our system. What we have seen in recent days and weeks is not fine. It is awful.”
The Victorian Government’s COVID-19 legislation bill is set to pass later this week. In the lead-up, hundreds have taken to the streets of Melbourne CBD and outside the Victorian Parliament in a violent anti-vax rally.
While some who joined the protest were everyday civilians disenfranchised with the government (and embarrassingly anti-vax), footage from the event showed some attendees hoisting up nooses meant for Labor MPs. Chillingly, Kate Callan, a Melbourne extremist believed to be associated with anti-lockdown far-right group Reignite Democracy, shared a photo of them in a Facebook post where she claimed one of them was for Daniel Andrews.
Similar demonstrations of far-right extremism and incitement of violence occurred earlier this year when extreme far-right factions violently took advantage of Victorian tradies frustrated with a two-week shutdown of their industry in a series of protests that lasted over a week.