Sun, Jan 06, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Protesters face off at Melbourne beach

IMMIGRATION:A local lawmaker told a rally that media paint ‘ordinary, hard-working Australians’ as ‘neo-Nazis, racists and facists’ and the ‘revolution will eventually start’

The Guardian

Tensions yesterday reached boiling point at St Kilda beach in Melbourne, Australia, as hundreds of protesters faced off in a screaming match over immigration policy, with minor scuffles breaking out.

Scores of police, including some with riot shields and on horseback, were on hand to keep the groups apart. A police boat kept watch from the water and two helicopters circled overhead.

Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson organized the rally at the beach to discuss Melbourne’s youth crime and African gang problems.

“Our country is under attack,” Cottrell said over a megaphone. “Africans are 77 times more likely to commit home invasion. That’s not racism, that’s a fact.”

Australian Senator Fraser Anning flew down from Queensland State to attend the event and Erikson thanked him for his presence.

“The left-wing media likes to hang tags on us like neo-Nazis, racists and facists, [but] they are just ordinary, hard-working Australians who pay their taxes,” Anning told reporters. “Australia has had enough. I think this is the start of something bigger. The revolution will eventually start. People have had enough of these people and they have got to be sent back to where they came from.”

Some protesters wore Australian and Eureka flags as capes and chanted “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi,” and “rise without fear.”

Counterprotesters shouted “Nazi scum not welcome here.”

A man in a pickup truck equipped with speakers and a megaphone drove down the Esplanade in St Kilda chanting: “Sudanese are welcome, racists are not.”

Protesters allegedly surrounded his vehicle, broke the speakers and ran off with the generator.

Later the two protest groups and police lines left the foreshore area and spilled out onto the road and walked toward Luna Park.

In one heated confrontation a protester broke through police lines and tried to grab a banner from three counter-protesters.

Police sprayed capsicum spray and used rubber pellets before arresting the protester.

Paramedics were helping to treat two women who were sprayed in the eyes.

Reporters saw at least six people being led away by police.

An 18-year-old man was arrested on the beach after being found with a “dangerous article” at about 12:20pm, police said.

“Victoria Police respects people’s right to protest peacefully, but will not tolerate those who break the law,” they said.

Police superintendent Tony Silva said there had been three arrests, including one for breach of bail.

A number of others had been briefly detained and then released, Silva said, adding that he hoped the public felt reassured that police had the situation under control.

One local resident, who gave her name as Janet, said the protests did not represent St Kilda.

“People should just calm down,” she said.

Grandmother Kimberley Neave from Inverloch said she had come to the rally because she was upset with the direction of the country and the amount of immigration.

Earlier, Greek migrant Vas Karakassidis told the rally that she knew what it was like to grow up feeling like you don’t belong.

“This beach always welcomed everyone,” she said.

Cottrell and Erikson said that the rally was a response to recent incidents in which young people have mugged others in the Port Phillip Bay area.

Erikson last week confronted a group of young men of African backgrounds who were playing soccer at St Kilda, prompting police intervention.

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