COPS UNMASK RADICALS
Police let city protesters know who’s in charge
POLICE flexed their new powers to unmask thugs who tried to hide their identity during Left and Right-wing protests in the city yesterday.
One masked man sparked a violent altercation after he refused to remove his mask as two opposing groups of demonstrators were involved in a loud stand-off on the steps of parliament.
A man, 24, and a woman aged 27 — who was charged with assaulting a photographer — were the only two arrested as hundreds gathered outside the State Library in a show of force against people they called “Nazis”.
Supporters of the Campaign Against Fascism and Jews Against Fascism blocked city streets for hours as they marched down Swanston St to confront their rivals at state parliament on Spring St.
That group was calling on the Andrews Government to take stronger action on violent criminals and gangrelated crime, and dozens of police were on hand to keep the groups apart.
Police made it clear last week they would enforce new laws that made it illegal for protesters to hide their faces.
The laws came into effect on Wednesday and include a violent disorder charge for those who commit thuggery in large groups.
Police pounced on the masked protester after noticing him outside the library before the march began. The youth screamed obscenities at journalists as he was led out of the crowd and questioned.
“This is not ethical,” he whined. “You’re invading my privacy.” Police took his details and released him.
But a woman who took offence to the media was not so fortunate. She lashed out at photographers capturing the earlier fracas, spitting at a Herald Sun photographer and assaulting another. She was tackled by up to six police officers, as their armour-clad colleagues stood guard, then taken away in a police van.
Three men were ordered to “move on” under breach of the peace provisions.
But police said they were generally pleased with the behaviour of those at the rally.
Another anti-racism protester appeared to be arrested shortly after his group reached a barricade at the end of Bourke St, near parliament.
Police pulled the man over the barrier and took him away as he yelled and filmed proceedings on his phone.
The anti-racism protesters yelled “Nazi scum” and “unite to fight the Right” as they marched through the city. “Drown out their message of hate with our message of solidarity,” one shouted. Former Israeli Defence Force soldier and organiser of the Right-wing event Avi Yemini said the group only wanted to make Victoria safe.
“Our world is upside down, political correct madness has taken over,’’ Mr Yemini said.
He said the group would continue to fight for minimum sentencing, no bail and no early release for violent offenders; adult jail time for offenders from age 18 and the legalisation of nonlethal weapons like pepper spray. firstname.lastname@example.org
A masked man is removed (left) then unmasked (below); a woman spits at the camera (top); and police keep the groups apart (above).