This Halloween, let’s look back at some terrifying incidents from the recent past that should not be forgotten. For the best part of two years, beginning in March 2020, attempts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic involved governments around the world seizing new powers and further expanding the scope of the state.
Lockdown restrictions saw widespread disruption to normal life for almost everyone. However, some authorities took their new powers and privileges to a level beyond what anyone sane would consider reasonable, leading to a range of truly terrifying incidents.
1. In the Philippines, a man was fatally shot over a curfew violation
In August 2021, a man was shot dead in the Philippines over a curfew violation. The victim, who was reportedly struggling with mental health problems, was confronted by a public safety officer, essentially a village watchman employed by the police. These watchmen were instructed to issue fines to anyone breaching the curfew.
After he was reprimanded, the victim allegedly made a threatening gesture with the wooden stick he was carrying and then walked away. At this point, the public safety officer loaded his gun, pursued the man, and fatally shot him. The incident was one of a number of fatal interactions between the authorities and members of the public in the Philippines during the pandemic.
2. Another man was fatally shot by police in Albania due to lockdown regulations
Similarly, in December 2020, a man was shot dead by authorities in Albania when he was spotted outside during the hours of an overnight curfew. Police claimed that 25-year-old Klodian Rasha had failed to obey an order to stop before his fatal shooting. It was also alleged that Rasha was carrying a weapon, although this was later confirmed to be untrue.
Albanian police subsequently described the incident as an excessive use of force by an officer. However, large protests emerged across the country, with hundreds of protesters being dispersed by authorities through the use of tear gas. Such incidents serve as a tragic reminder of the risk of escalation and tension between civilians and law enforcement when blanket orders are issued.
3. In Australia, local authorities shot dead 15 dogs at a shelter
In Australia, where lockdown restrictions have been notoriously severe, 15 rescue dogs, including 10 puppies, were shot dead by local authorities in Bourke, New South Wales. This shocking act was carried out in order to ensure that volunteers from outlying areas would not travel to care for the dogs.
Under the Bourke Shire Council’s interpretation of lockdown restrictions, this course of action was “necessary” to protect the local community from COVID-19, as a stay-at-home order is in place across New South Wales.
4. A man suffered a heart attack after being arrested for not wearing a mask
Staying in Australia, a disturbing incident occurred in August at Brisbane Botanical Gardens, where an elderly man suffered a heart attack after being arrested for not wearing a face mask. He had told police that he was unable to wear a mask due to heart problems and breathing difficulties. However, they did not believe him.
As the man was being dragged away in handcuffs, he suddenly collapsed and suffered seizures, which police initially failed to take seriously. As he tried to reach for medication in his bag, police held him to the ground. Thankfully, the man survived the ordeal, much of which was recorded by his partner who was able to stand up for him.
5. Lockdown regulations meant a three-year-old boy was separated from his parents for two months
Returning once again to Australia, a three-year-old boy was separated from his parents for two months due to internal border closures. In July, the young boy had traveled to spend time with his grandparents on a cattle station in New South Wales.
Shortly thereafter, his home state of Queensland closed its borders with New South Wales at short notice due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Sydney. The boy’s parents applied multiple times unsuccessfully for an exemption that would allow him to return home on compassionate grounds.
After the family’s plight gained widespread media attention, an exemption was finally granted, although the boy still had to undergo a two-week quarantine upon his return to Queensland.
6. South Australia’s quarantine app
Australia again? You better believe it. In August 2021, South Australia piloted a new app as part of their quarantine policy for citizens returning from other parts of the country. Downloading the app became a requirement for anyone arriving in South Australia from another state who wished to serve out their mandatory 14-day quarantine at home rather than in a designated hotel.
South Australia’s quarantine app ran on a combination of facial recognition and geolocation technology, functioning by requesting proof of identity and location within 15 minutes at random times. If someone failed to supply this information within the 15-minute period, the app informs law enforcement who would then conduct an in-person check at the person’s address.
That’s right, if you, an innocent citizen, didn’t provide the government with your identity and location when asked, they may well break down your bathroom door while you’re having a shower…
At the time, South Australia’s Premier, Steven Marshall, stated his belief that “every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app.”
As we gather for Halloween, let us not forget these real-life horrors and the lessons they offer. The pursuit of public health must always be balanced with the preservation of personal liberty, and these incidents underscore the need for vigilance in safeguarding our rights. Events like those outlined above must never be normalized or allowed to happen again.
While the world faces new challenges, let us remember that the defense of individual liberty remains a crucial part of the ongoing battle for a better, more just, and freer society.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.