City face-off sees police use powers to move on masked protesters
‘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.
Victoria Police arrest a man who refused to take off a mask