Victoria Police drop charges against Black Lives Matter protesters | Victoria

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Victoria Police have dropped charges against Black Lives Matter protesters Meriki Onus and Crystal McKinnon, who were accused of breaching public health orders by organizing a Melbourne protest during the 2020 COVID lockdown.

The women first fought to have the charges dropped after their lawyers were informed in June last year that the case would be dismissed because the allegations were “fatally flawed”.

This was incorrect, according to prosecutors, who claimed that an email to lawyers had been sent by someone who did not have decision-making power.

A second attempt to defer the charges was made in November when prosecutors attempted to change their wording.

Magistrate Andrew McKenna ruled against the changes and on Tuesday he applied to drop the charges.

Prosecutor Matt Fischer said, “The matter has been carefully considered by the prosecution and as a result of the court’s decision the prosecution wishes to drop the charges.”

McKenna formally dismissed the charges and ordered Victoria Police to cover the reasonable costs of protecting the women.

They were in court for the verdict. Shortly before the start of the hearing, supporters gave him a bouquet of native flowers.

Outside court, both women thanked their legal team and supporters, saying that fighting the allegations had been a long and difficult three years.

“However, we want to emphasize that the fight is not over. One death in custody, one death by the state is one too many,” Onas said.

“We want to offer our solidarity and support to all people and groups fighting for justice and organizing to end racism and ongoing violence.”

McKinnon thanked those who helped organize the 2020 Black Lives Matter rally, the speakers who shared their stories and experiences of racism and violence, and those who attended or supported from home.

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Her barrister, Patrick Doyle SC, had previously argued that the charge against her was false and incorrect as it alleged that the women had breached a direction or requirement by meeting with 20 or more people with whom they were not Use to live.

It also did not mention who gave the direction, although it did mention the Chief Health Officer exemption.

McKenna himself noted that the accusation was worded in a terrible way and “might as well have been made by a Martian”.

He said that it had to be read over and over again for his experienced eye to get a proper sense, and that this was not how an accused should approach an allegation.

Francesca Holmes, who represented Victoria Police at that November hearing, also acknowledged the terrible formatting and grammar.

He had also applied to change the dates of the alleged humiliation, but that application was also rejected.

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