City face-off sees po­lice use pow­ers to move on masked pro­test­ers

The Australian - - THE NATION - SI­MONE FOX KOOB

‘If you’re stand­ing up for safety, some­how you’re a fas­cist, Nazi Jew. I refuse to let my com­mu­nity live in fear’ AVI YEMINI PROTEST LEADER

Po­lice used newly en­acted pow­ers that al­low them to dis­perse masked pro­test­ers to charge par­tic­i­pants of a Mel­bourne anti-fas­cist rally, where sev­eral mem­bers of the hard left clashed with of­fi­cers.

A man dressed in all black wear­ing a dark face cov­er­ing stand­ing in the crowd of the an­tiracism and anti-fas­cism protest re­fused to leave the area when asked by of­fi­cers, re­sult­ing in a vi­o­lent scuf­fle with po­lice.

He was hand­cuffed af­ter he re­sisted ar­rest and be­gan shout­ing at nearby me­dia, but was even­tu­ally re­leased and charged with wear­ing a face cov­er­ing.

An­other woman wear­ing a hoodie and sun­glasses was ar­rested and put in the back of a po­lice van af­ter she be­gan shout­ing and vi­o­lently as­sault­ing pho­tog­ra­phers and other me­dia who were cov­er­ing the event.

“Po­lice were gen­er­ally pleased with the be­hav­iour at today’s rally, how­ever there were some breaches of the peace and be­hav­iour which re­sulted in a 24-year-old male to be charged on sum­mons for wear­ing a face cov­er­ing and a 27-year-old fe­male charged with as­sault,” a Vic­to­ria Po­lice spokesman said yes­ter­day. “Three other males were moved on un­der breach-of-the-peace pro­vi­sions.”

The new po­lice pow­ers, de­signed to un­mask groups such as the an­tifa — a mil­i­tant protest movement that reg­u­larly uses face cov­er­ings — were en­acted just 72 hours be­fore the rally, which in­volved about 300 peo­ple.

The an­tifa pro­test­ers marched down Bourke Street to the steps of state par­lia­ment yes­ter­day to counter a far-right rally or­gan­ised by anti-Is­lamic for­mer Is­raeli army of­fi­cer Avi Yemini.

About 60 peo­ple turned up to Mr Yemini’s “Make Vic­to­ria Safe Again” rally, many of whom were from Mel­bourne far-right groups, in­clud­ing the Soldiers of Odin, In­fi­del Broth­er­hood and the True Blue Crew.

Far-right provo­ca­teur Neil Erik­son, one of the men con­victed of in­cit­ing se­ri­ous con­tempt, re­vul­sion and ridicule of Mus­lim peo­ple by be­head­ing a dummy as part of a protest against the con­struc­tion of a mosque in Bendigo, Vic­to­ria, was also in at­ten­dance.

Speak­ers at the anti-fas­cism rally, dubbed “From Char­lottesville to Mel­bourne; Unite to fight the far right”, said Mr Yemini was a Nazi and a “con­victed anti-Semite” who was pro­mot­ing racism un­der the guise of a clam­p­down on crime.

But Mr Yemini, an avid Don­ald Trump sup­porter, told his fol­low­ers yes­ter­day he was mo­ti­vated by a de­sire to “make Vic­to­ria great again”. “If you’re stand­ing up for safety, some­how you’re a fas­cist, Nazi Jew,” he said. “I refuse to let my com­mu­nity live in fear in Vic­to­ria. All I want is to make Vic­to­ria safe again. Ap­par­ently that is racism. I don’t care. I don’t care. I wear that proudly.”

Mr Yemini called for cap­sicum spray to be le­galised among a raft of other de­mands, in­clud­ing min­i­mum sen­tenc­ing and no bail for vi­o­lent of­fend­ers.

The small protest played the Aus­tralian an­them and chanted: “Black, white, straight or queer, we refuse to live in fear” be­fore dis­pers­ing mid-af­ter­noon.

AAP

Vic­to­ria Po­lice ar­rest a man who re­fused to take off a mask

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