Victoria Police have criticized the ‘appalling’ behavior of protesters at a CBD rally after a violent clash broke out between neo-Nazis and anti-racism protesters.
A group of about 25 neo-Nazis clashed with police and anti-racism protesters outside Victoria’s parliament on Saturday.
Hordes of masked far-right demonstrators marched against immigration with members seen performing the Seig Heil, a salute given by Nazis at rallies.
They were outnumbered by anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, some of whom hurled objects at the group after giving the salute.
Police were forced to use pepper spray to contain the violence and were heard yelling at protesters to ‘go back’.
Far-right protesters were seen performing the Seig Heil – a salute used by Nazis – while protesting immigration
The far-right group was met by counter-demonstrators from the Campaign against Racism and Fascism group
Police had to use pepper spray to contain the violence after the two groups clashed
Victoria Police said on Sunday they were ‘appalled’ by the display, stating that ‘hate and prejudice have no place in our society’.
“Like the community, the police were shocked by the acts displayed in Melbourne,” a statement said.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in our community, no matter who they are.
“We understand that incidents of anti-Semitism can leave communities feeling targeted, threatened and vulnerable. Hate and prejudice have no place in our society.’
The meeting was widely condemned by both federal and state government officials.
Federal Government Minister Chris Bowen issued a scathing response on Saturday, labeling the gathering “unspeakably un-Australian” and calling neo-Nazis “political madmen who have no place in modern Australia”.
‘It’s unacceptable. It’s not on. This is pure and simple racism and neo-Nazism is pure and simple evil,” Bowen said.
“It has no place in our country, it must be condemned and it is being condemned by this government.”
In a scathing joint statement, Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto and Deputy Liberal Leader David Southwick labeled neo-Nazis as ‘thugs’.
“The Victorian Liberals and Nationals condemn neo-Nazi villains and their toxic bigotry and hatred,” the statement read.
Australia has a proud history of an orderly immigration program where people of all backgrounds come together in shared Liberal Democratic values.
“This kind of behavior is completely unacceptable and goes against the values of an inclusive, tolerant and multicultural community.”
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed in March it would introduce legislation to ban the Nazi salute, but the change has not yet been legislated.
Victoria Police said they were ‘appalled’ by the far-right group’s display, claiming that ‘hate and prejudice have no place in our society’
Members of Melbourne’s National Socialist Network planned the event from Saturday afternoon
The state will ban public display of the Nazi swastika, including graffiti and other related symbols, by 2022.
Members of Melbourne’s National Socialist Network planned the event from Saturday afternoon.
Thomas Sewell of the National Socialist Network shared a video on social channels inviting fellow Aussies to join the protest.
“We are organizing our opposition to the system’s entry of 715,000 immigrants over the next two years, further exacerbating the housing crisis and the ethnic replacement of white Australians in their own suburbs and cities,” Sewell said.
“This will be a peaceful and legal demonstration open to all supporters and bystanders who wish to make their voices heard. Living space for whites! Stop Immigration!’
Counter-demonstrators from the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) group rallied against the far-right group, arriving at Melbourne’s Spring St.
“The relationship between mainstream racism and the far right couldn’t be clearer,” CARF organizers said online.
Their capitalist masters say jump, and the fascists ask how high.
It’s time for anti-fascists to act. Let’s show up en masse to prove that Melbourne is an anti-fascist city.”
In response, Victoria Police declared the CBD a ‘designated area’ from 7am to 7pm, deploying more than 200 officers to the area and giving them stop and search powers.
More than 200 officers were deployed across the city in response to organized protests
It comes after about 30 neo-Nazis attended a controversial event hosted by British anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen in March, where they saluted on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House
Counter-protesters were seen shouting “woman basher” at Avi Yemini, a far-right YouTuber convicted of assaulting his former partner.
Many of the counter-demonstrators left to join another rally in support of Palestine, the neo-Nazis being marched out of parliament by operatives before dispersing.
Police arrested two men, including a 30-year-old from Doreen for stealing a body-worn camera and assaulting police and a 20-year-old for ‘discharging a missile’ and assaulting an officer.
It comes after about 30 neo-Nazis attended a controversial event hosted by British anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen in March, where they saluted on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House.