COPS UN­MASK RAD­I­CALS

Po­lice let city pro­test­ers know who’s in charge

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE FLOWER, AARON LANGMAID AND AN­DREA HAMBLIN

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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. wayne.flower@news.com.au

HER­ALD­SUN.COM.AU MON­DAY, SEPTEM­BER 18, 2017

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Pic­tures: JAKE NOWAKOWSKI, YURI KOUZMIN

A masked man is re­moved (left) then unmasked (be­low); a woman spits at the cam­era (top); and po­lice keep the groups apart (above).

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