Melbourne, Australia: Antifascist Community Counter-Demo Against Fascist Beach Rally
In an attempt to capitalize on the recent mainstream media’s xenophobic ‘African Gangs’ fear campaign, local fascist social media personality Neil Erikson attempted to organize what he hoped would be a race riot at the St Kilda beach foreshore on Saturday, January 5th. Usually the fascists announce their rallies well in advance, however this time they gave less than a week’s notice, which meant antifascists had to work very quickly to organize a counter-demonstration.
When Saturday arrived, it soon became clear that Erikson’s demented vision of some kind of race riot would not come to fruition. Barely a couple of hundred assorted fascists turned up to hear fascist pin-up boy Blair Cottrell doing his best Adolf Hitler impersonation, along with speeches by Erikson and Kane Miller- leader of the fascist street gang TBC (True Blue Crew). Also in attendance was the fascist Queensland Senator, Fraser Anning, who flew down to Melbourne at the tax payer’s expense to hang out with with his fascist buddies and try and give some kind of political legitimacy to Erikson’s Nazi beach party.
The hastily organized antifascist response consisted of a militant counter-demonstration organized by CARF (Campaign Against Racism and Fascism) and a peaceful solidarity picnic organized by several antifascist community groups including Jews Against Fascism, SEAR (South East Anti-Racists) and DYVRS (Diamond Yarra Valley Resistance Solidarity). The CARF counter-demo was the biggest of the two contingents, overall 3 or 400 people turned up to counter the fascists.
However, the biggest group in attendance on the day were Victoria Police, who mobilized in massive numbers in an over-the-top display of paramilitary police state force. Riot police, undercover police, regular uniformed police, police on horseback, police with dogs, police media teams- basically every kind of cop you could think of including the helicopter unit and most ridiculously of all, some kind of police naval vessel patrolling the sea! The overwhelming police numbers ensured that no serious clashes took place, and as per usual, the cops focused predominantly on antifa, which meant we were effectively kettled for most of the day. Despite their determined kettling of antifa, the cops only made half-serious attempts to prevent roving gangs of fascists from entering the area where antifascists were gathered. This seemed to be deliberately concentrated where the peaceful solidarity picnic was taking place, but fortunately plenty of antifa were in the vicinity and were able to push the fascists back out behind the police lines.
So the fascists didn’t get their race riot, nor were they able to attract the massive numbers they were expecting based on the social media hype surrounding their rally. The hastily organized antifascist response could have been a lot better, hopefully next time we will be more prepared. Probably the biggest winners of the day were the fucking police, who seemed to be having a grand old time turning the St Kilda foreshore into a temporary police state, and they even got to try out some of their new toys including some particularly sinister looking pellet guns that were reportedly used against a small group of non-cooperative fascists. Surprisingly the mainstream media coverage of the fascist’s rally was overwhelmingly negative, even the far-right Herald-Sun newspaper concentrated on the fact that actual sieg-heiling Nazis were in attendance rather than their usual fascist sympathizing bullshit about ‘ordinary Mums and Dads’.
So that’s pretty much it- for those interested in a more detailed analysis of what went down on Saturday as well as the aftermath, then head on over to Slackbastard where you will find some pretty comprehensive, well researched and probably better written coverage.
(Written for Mpalothia by somebody from Anarchists in Narrm / Melbourne)