UPDATE : On tomorrow’s The SUWA Show (5.30-6.30pm /// Friday, July 24 /// 3CR 855AM) Dr Cam & I yarn w John Safran about his experiences on July 18 and review the protest that was/n’t.
See also : Gun found in bag of NSW protester, 9news (AAP), July 23, 2015 | Revealed: Firearm seized from busload of protesters heading to anti-Islam rally, 3AW, July 23, 2015 | Firearm found on Reclaim Australia rally bus bound for Melbourne from Sydney, Bianca Hall, The Age, July 23, 2015.
A few more notes re the Reclaim Australia/United Patriots Front mobilisations on the weekend.
• Barnesy has come out swinging against the use of his music to promote RA, causing Reclaimers to shed White hot tears. See : Reclaim Australia ‘deeply saddened’ by Jimmy Barnes’ request to not use songs at future rallies, ABC, July 22, 2015.
• … and Barnesy has now been joined by Farnesy! See : John Farnham Has Also Banned Reclaim Australia From Using His Music Because FUCK YES, STRAYA, Meg Watson, Junkee, July 22, 2015.
• One person extremely happy to join Reclaim Australia in kicking Muslim Australians is the extremely well-paid LNP troll and Federal MP George Christensen. Blogger Andrew Elder has opinions on Curious George and you can read them here.
• Jeff Sparrow had an article in yesterday’s edition of The Guardian, reminding folks that, despite the often comically grotesque nature of their activities, RA/UPF stands in a much longer and dangerous tradition of fascist and proto-fascist movements. See : If you oppose Reclaim Australia, remember fascism wasn’t always a freakshow, July 22, 2015.
• In Melbourne, it was mildly amusing to witness the UPF — who assembled at the Melbourne Museum in Carlton Gardens before a brief march — join with the RA rally, especially given the acrimonious nature of their split and the ritual denunciations of RA by the UPF as leftist traitors and weaklings. Numbers for both rallies — which police managed as the one event — were very low, with a combined total of around 150, a product both of the successful counter-mobilisation and the seemingly decreasing appeal of such displays of public idiocy. Indeed, across the country RA numbers were down while counter-protests attracted a larger number of participants than on April 4. As for the UPF, despite reinforcements from Sydney — a bus organised by Ralph Cerminara and the Australian Defence League — their numbers were roughly equivalent to those present on May 31. Note: Shermon Burgess’s seemingly defunct studio project ‘Eureka Brigade’ dedicated a song, titled ‘Ralph Cerminara ADL Leader’, to Mr Cerminara.
• The policing of the event in Melbourne (see below) has been widely applauded by Reclaimers/UPFers, who’ve taken great delight in the use of pepper spray upon the counter-protesters.
• A number of overly-enthusiastic patriots tried to make trouble for the counter-rally on Saturday, including the very patriotik yoof Corey Hadow and Zane ‘Chappo’ Chapman. The naughty boys weren’t xacly intimidated by the slap on the wrist they received from police …
Corey and Zane had a number of feels following their funs on Saturday too:
Note that supporters of the fascist bully-boys have established a Fundrazr campaign to help them pay their fines for being naughty and attacking the anti-fascist picket. (Currently, the campaign has been suspended.) Here they are having fun and throwing bottles at antifa (behind whom are located the street medics — see below).
Finally, a photo of two of the boys being detained by police.
• A local metalhead was keen to let the counter-protest know what he thought of them:
• There were a small number of known faces present on July 18, folks who’d previously attended on May 31 and April 4. One martial artist, Kyokushin practitioner Dane Carroll — whom I don’t know was present on previous occasions — is here seen in confrontation with a young woman:
• A handful of boneheads belonging to the ‘Patriots Defence League Australia’ (PDLA) were present early on in the day. They were told to shoo and did, it seems. Note that: a) The PDLA fraudulently registered as an incorporated association in Queensland; b) It seems likely that the PDLA boys present in Melbourne on the day have a very close affinity to neo-Nazism; c) They were allegedly working in close cooperation with Monika Evers’ sidekick Julie Kendall, who allegedly defended the participation of neo-Nazi skinhead Glenn Anderson/Androvski in the RA/UPF rally.
::: Above img via Wardenclyffe Photography :::
• Local right-winger — Codename: ‘Squeaky’ — was one of a few dozen unhappy campers to have attempted to break the picket in Melbourne. ‘Squeaky’ was also present on May 31 filming antifa. As ‘Squeaky’ is known to be hostile, it would make sense not to allow him to freely mingle with and to film antifa/antira protests in future I believe.
• Blair Cottrell, AKA ‘National Democratic Party of Australia’ and UPF leader, was of course present on July 18 and was very chummy with Christian Identity neo-Nazi James Lawrence. In the early part of this year — ie, slightly prior to his emergence as a political activist on April 4 — Cottrell made a series of comments on Facebook and YouTube denying the Holocaust, iterating a pathological hatred for Jews and a certain fondness for some bloke called Adolf Hitler. When I could be bothered I’ll transcribe these comments as a blogpost.
• On policing of the July 18 rally:
First, the police line: ‘Looking for confrontation': Police decry aggressive Melbourne protesters, 3AW, July 20, 2015; secondly, Reclaim Australia rally: Victoria police defend officer pictured with anti-Islamic protester, Melissa Davey, The Guardian, July 20, 2015.
Andy Fleming, who monitors extreme-right movements and chronicles them on his website, said it was unclear whether police had sprayed the volunteer medics deliberately, but said it was unlikely.
“Police use the spray to disperse a crowd, and it disperses indiscriminately,” he said.
“However, the police did not warn anyone they were about to use it, which is a problem because it can cause severe respiratory problems in some people and it can be lethal.”
The medics did not have the status or recognition of paramedics, Fleming said, so it was likely police acted without regard for their role.
Fleming said it was difficult to say what the motivation was of the officer who locked hands with the protester, but said it may have been a gesture to thank the United Patriots Front demonstrators for following police orders outside parliament house during their rally.
“They didn’t make a fuss like the rest of the crowd did, so I think it might have been a simple acknowledgement, a thanks,” Fleming said.
For the sake of clarity I would add the following remarks:
I don’t know if police deliberately targeted the medics qua medics — they obviously knew that, when the capsicum spray was deployed as it was, the medics (and the people under their care) would be affected;
It seems highly likely that, based on the frequency of its use and the fact that they had a plentiful supply, in planning for the event police decided that spray was a useful weapon to employ. Further, the use of snatch squads was sporadic and arrests relatively few — the crowd was suppressed through the use of a chemical agent;
In the normal course of events, medical attention at protests is provided by paramedics, whose status is recognised by police. Based on their tactics on the day, police viewed all counter-protesters as one mass, subject to the same treatment and without regard for their role. This includes both street medics and legal observers (see below);
Whatever thoughts happened to be in Sergeant X’s head when he clasped the hand of the UPFer are unknown and will remain so. The action derives its meaning from its context, which in the narrow sense was the departure of the UPF from Parliament and in the broader sense the police action in repressing the counter-protest, especially thru the use of capsicum spray;
Police are naturally inclined to be well-disposed to obedient subjects, which is what the UPF was. As subsequent reportage has made clear, police have concluded that the real ‘troublemakers’ on the day were the counter-protesters — the sergeant’s action provides vivid confirmation of this fact.
See also : Medics’ Statement on July 18 anti-racist/fascist Demonstration, Melbourne Street Medic Collective, July 18, 2015.
Select media reportage : John Safran reports from the Reclaim Australia rally, where things were even scarier than he expected, PerthNow, July 21, 2015 | POV: A Photographer Captures the ‘Reclaim Australia’ Protests in Sydney, Michael Zhang, petapixel, July 20, 2015 | Drone footage captures clashes between anti-Islamic and anti-racism protesters in Australia, Ryan Ramgobin, The Independent, July 20, 2015 | Junk Explained: What Exactly Went Down At The ‘Reclaim Australia’ Protests In Melbourne, And Why?, Sinead Stubbins, Junkee, July 19, 2015 | PHOTOS: Anti-racist protesters in Perth demonstrate against Reclaim Australia, Chris Jenkins, Green Left Weekly, July 19, 2015 | 18th July, No Room For Racism’s counter-rally against Reclaim Australia, Moon Tzu, AG News, July 18, 2015 | Fascists fail in Melbourne – again, Ben Hillier, Red Flag, July 18, 2015.
Commentary [NEVER READ THE COMMENTS] : The Far-Right Australians Fighting Muslims, the Left and Each Other, Royce Kurmelovs, Vice (UK), July 22, 2015 | How racists are co-opting multiculturalism, Ruby Hamad, Daily Life, July 22, 2015 [Note: To be read in conjunction with John Safran’s article.] | Racism and cynicism – a powerful blend, The Guardian [CPA], July 22, 2015 | Thoughts after #July18 – A defeat for the far-right, Kieran’s Review, July 21, 2015 | Why Reclaim Australia is on the rise and how we can stop it, Charis Chang, news.com.au, July 21, 2015 | ISIS’s war inside the West, Hussain Nadim, the interpreter, July 21, 2015 | Extremist groups wilt under public scrutiny, Van Badham, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 21, 2015 | Something I learnt at the anti-racism counter rally, Nicole Mousley, Red Flag, July 21, 2015 | Comment: A tale of two protests, Saman Shad, SBS, July 20, 2015 | Reclaim Australia is the product of rising rightwing extremism, Anne Aly, The Guardian, July 20, 2015 | Some Reflections on Reclaim Australia, July 18th, Tom, Anarchist Affinity, July 20, 2015 | Confrontation is justified when fascists take to the streets, Corey Oakley, Red Flag, July 20, 2015 | Large police mobilisation at right-wing Reclaim Australia rallies, James Cogan, wsws.org, July 20 2015 | Australian race relations suffering from a lack of political leadership, Jenna Price, The Canberra Times, July 20, 2015 | Reclaim Australia rallies: Racial cohesion facing its greatest threat in 30 years, says president of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW, Angela Lavoipierre, ABC (AM), July 20, 2015 | A G A I N S T N A T I O N A L I S M, totaltantrum, April 19/July 19, 2015 | Right-wing extremism equal to Muslim radicalisation, say academics, Rachel Olding, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 17, 2015.
B O N U S L E G A L S !
PUBLIC STATEMENT – RECLAIM AUSTRALIA & COUNTER RALLIES
18 July 2015, Melbourne, Australia
On Saturday the 18th of July 2015 Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of eight (8) trained Legal Observers at the Reclaim Australia and counter rallies that took place near the intersection of Spring and Bourke Streets in Melbourne’s Central Business District.
Legal Observers monitored the actions of Victoria Police and recorded evidence throughout the 5 hour event.
We note that Victoria Police had a large presence and cordoned off the entire intersection in front of Parliament House. MALS acknowledges that Victoria Police efforts were directed at maintaining space between two opposing political groupings on the day in order to avoid physical confrontation.
Areas of concern:
Legal Observers noted several incidents of use of OC foam/spray by a specialist unit of Victoria Police at the event. According to the Melbourne Street Medics upwards of 100 people had to be treated because of the use of this spray. OC spray/foam causes severe burning for several hours, incapacitation and can affect the respiratory system causing breathing difficulties.
A particular area of concern was an incident that occurred at the corner of Spring and Little Bourke Streets at approximately 12:43 PM. An ad-hoc medic triage station had been set up on Little Bourke Street near the corner. One patient was semi-conscious on the ground and under the care of the Street Medics and waiting for the ambulance. A physical altercation between rival protestors began directly in front of the medic station when Police rushed around the corner and immediately and without warning sprayed into the crowd of 60-80 people present. Street Medics and other volunteers who were trying to keep the medic triage area clear were severely affected by the OC foam as were most people in the area (including journalists and bystanders). The injured person receiving care was again affected by the OC spray.
According to Legal Observers present the OC foam was not directed towards individuals who were threatening police or engaged in violence but instead was directed over and onto the entire crowd of people present. For this reason the MALS Legal Observer Team identifies the use of OC foam in this circumstance as indiscriminate and therefore unlawful.
MALS condemns the use of OC Foam against members of the public who were already injured and medical staff whose presence was made clear to police on a number of occasions before this incident occurred.
In the future as our group increases in capacity we hope to be able to provide more comprehensive assistance in such instances, however we would like to share the following information in the meantime:
We encourage people who want to take further action to immediately record all details from the event, including as much factual detail as possible, and to make duplicates of any footage of incidents depicting inappropriate use of force … [~ see the MALS website for moar infos ~]
The UPF gathers to celebrate post-rally at The PumpHouse Hotel (128 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy).