“Come To Richmond”, They Said; “It Will Be Fun”, They Said …
The United Patriots Front (UPF) is a fascist splinter from Reclaim Australia (RA). Its leadership in Melbourne consists of two local neo-Nazis: Blair Cottrell (‘National Democratic Party of Australia’) and convicted anti-Semite Neil Erikson (‘Nationalist Republican Guard’). Several weeks ago, the UPF declared that they’d be holding a rally outside Richmond Town Hall. Why Richmond Town Hall? Because Steve Jolly of the Socialist Party is a Yarra councillor and the UPF hold him and the SP responsible for the disruption to the RA rally of April 4.
The weeks leading up to today’s rally saw a stream of (increasingly batshit) invective directed at ‘leftists’ by the UPF, and the fascists boldly declared that nothing and nobody would stop them from holding their little Nuremberg rally at the Town Hall. The UPF also claimed that ‘The Great Aussie Patriot’ — aka Shermon Burgess — would be sure to conduct a huge rally of ‘patriots’ to the Town Hall steps, whereupon he would presumably lead them in chants of ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi’ and denounce the spectre of communism that is haunting their dreams.
But Richmond is a very long way from Cooma, and things didn’t go quite as the fascists hoped it would …
The UPF began assembling in Citizens Park at least an hour ahead of their scheduled rally (1pm). In total, they numbered around at least 50, with various others — including a handful of Croatian fascists — milling about on Bridge Road. Anti-fascists meanwhile, who numbered in the many hundreds, assembled outside the Town Hall, determined not to allow the fascists to reach the Town Hall steps.
At a little after 1pm, the UPF began marching the short distance from Citizens Park up Gleadell Street to Bridge Road and then along it to the Town Hall. A police vanguard formed and attempted to lead the fascists on to the Town Hall steps. Anti-fascists formed a blockade at this point to prevent the UPF and their police escort from reaching the Hall. After several minutes of pushing and shoving, police gave up trying to smash their way through the picket and the UPF were left penned in by a police kettle outside the post office next door to the Hall. This stalemate continued for about half-an-hour or so, before police escorted the fascists down the alleyway next to Town Hall and back to the Park.
In summary, despite a concerted effort by police, anti-fascists in Melbourne were able to prevent the UPF from reaching their goal — or doing much of anything apart from look like a pack of racist dropkicks.
mAAAAAAd props to all who turned out today to stop the UPF and to turn their fascist rally into a deeply humiliating defeat. The UPF will be back on Saturday, July 18 to re-join Reclaim Australia and to continue their public campaign of racial hatred and religious vilification. Rest assured that the people of Melbourne will again be taking to the streets to oppose them.
See also : Anti-Islam protesters and anti-racism activists clash in Melbourne, The Age, May 31, 2015 | ‘You will always lose in Melbourne’: fascists fail in Richmond, Ben Hillier, Red Flag, May 31, 2015.