Right-wing commentator Avi Yemini was throw to the ground by police and arrested as he covered the anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne.
Yemini was reporting for fringe US media outlet Rebel News and doing a piece to camera in Albert Park on Saturday as police clashed with protesters.
As he was recounting the day’s events, a police commander suddenly pointed him out and ordered officers to arrest him.
‘This bloke here is not here for any purposeful reason, I want him under arrest right now,’ the commander said, grabbing his microphone.
Right-wing commentator Avi Yemini was throw to the ground by police and arrested as he covered the anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne
Four officers then approached Yemini – who had media accreditation – and pushed him to the ground before handcuffing him, despite protests that his pass was in his pocket.
Unknown to the officers, Yemini’s lapel microphone was still active and recorded police telling him he was arrested for hindering police.
However, footage released by Rebel News on Tuesday showed he was standing alongside several journalists who were also recording police and protesters.
He was soon released pending further inquiries, but given a move on notice from the area, ending his ability to report for the day.
Footage from earlier in the day showed Yemini and his crew showing their work permits and being let through a police checkpoint near the protest.
Yemini, who was reporting for Rebel News with a media pass, was doing a piece to camera in Albert Park on Saturday as police clashed with protesters
As he was recounting the day’s events, a police commander suddenly pointed him out and ordered officers to arrest him
Before Yemini was released, his camera crew inadvertently recorded two reporters from Nine News and 7 News criticising police tactics on the day.
‘Mate, I just almost got arrested,’ Nine News reporter Mark Santomartino was heard saying to 7 News journalist Paul Dowsley.
‘Same here, they threatened me with arrest, d**kheads,’ Dowsley replied.
Dowsley said he was told he was ‘in a police safe zone’ and told ‘don’t be a f**king smarta**e’ when he asked what that was and where he should go.
‘Consistency, that’s what you hope for – a clear consistent message,’ he added, while Santomartino was equally unimpressed.
Dowsley was later confronted by Yemini and asked what he though about Yemini’s arrest on camera but declined to comment while surrounded by police.
The veteran reporter was sent abuse on social media by Yemini’s fans who said they hoped he was beaten up by police at the next protest.
Four officers then approached Yemini and pushed him to the ground before handcuffing him
Yemini was held on the ground for some time, despite his protests his work permit was in his pocket, before being led away in handcuffs
Footage from earlier in the day showed Yemini and his crew showing their work permits and being let through a police checkpoint near the protest
About 9pm on Saturday, police knocked on Yemini’s door for a ‘compliance check’ to make sure he was home during the curfew.
Yemini angrily asked why he was being targeted and was told it was because he was ‘on a list’ due to his hindering caution earlier in the day.
‘You’re coming to my house with my kids in the middle of the night when I’ve never not complied, like any other journalist,’ he told them.
Yemini has a long, chequered history as a far-right rabble rouser and holds strong anti-immigrant and anti-Islam views.
The former Israeli soldier ran a gym in Melbourne before moving on to run communications for fellow far-right activist Tommy Robinson in Britain.
He has since returned to Australia and fashioned himself as a political commentator on YouTube and for Rebel News and other fringe outlets.
His divisive rhetoric at one point got him banned from Facebook and assaulted by Muslim activist Sam Ekermawi.
Before Yemini was released, his camera crew inadvertently recorded Nine News reporter Mark Santomartino (right) and 7 News journalist Paul Dowsley (left) criticising police tactics on the day
About 9pm on Saturday, police knocked on Yemini’s door for a ‘compliance check’ to make sure he was home during the curfew (Yemini’s CCTV at the time pictured)
Yemini was also convicted of throwing a chopping board at his wife Sarah Lyford’s head in 2016 and of harassing her three times in 2017.
‘It was like I didn’t exist as a human being, I was just a vessel for his hatred… He terrorised me,’ she told the court.
‘What I will never forget is that he didn’t flinch when it happened. He didn’t ask if I was okay. He just walked by, I was left to tend to my own injuries and finish making the dinner.’
Yemini was also in 2016 sued for defamation by his own brother, anti-paedophile activist Manny Waks, for accusing Mr Waks and his father of ‘harbouring a paedophile’.
Saturday’s protest saw more than 1,000 anti-lockdown activists descend on Melbourne and clash with police officers in wild scenes.
Anti-lockdown protesters were bombarded with police outside the Shrine of Remembrance on Saturday (pictured)
One man had his shirt ripped off during the violent protests in Melbourne on Saturday. He is seen being led away by police
Shocking footage from the ‘Freedom Day’ rally showed the horde of protesters, many refusing to wear masks and battling with police.
Dramatic scenes saw demonstrators tackled to the ground while officers struggled to detain them.
The protests kicked off at the Shrine of Remembrance but coronavirus-deniers the took to the streets, stopping traffic near Albert Park.
One crowd faced off with police on horseback as the chant ‘freedom’ rang out across the city while 17 people were arrested and more than 200 fines given out.
Of those arrests, 14 were for breaching COVID-19 restrictions and one was for assaulting a police officer after a cop was hit round the head as the protests turned violent.