The newly-formed ‘United Patriots Front’ (UPF) has organised a rally at 1pm on Sunday May 31 in Richmond. The UPF plan to assemble at Citizens Park before proceeding to Richmond Town Hall, the location of Yarra City Council.
The UPF has organised the event in order to protest the presence on council of Socialist Party (SP) member Steve Jolly. Jolly and other SP members — Anthony Main and Mel Gregson — are held responsible for disrupting the Reclaim Australia (RA) rally at Federation Square on April 4, as well being guilty of the crime of being ‘Un-Australian’.
A counter-rally has been organised by the ‘Campaign Against Racism and Fascism’, which has issued the following statement on May 31:
STATEMENT ON MOBILISATIONS ON 31 MAY 2015 IN MELBOURNE
1. Reclaim Australia was very successful on 4 April in aggregating racist and fascist forces throughout Australia.
2. This had been a long term project of the far right in Australia for many years and for many years the left had prevented it from occurring.
3. Reclaim Australia has now split in to right wing racists and outright fascist components. Their components are still as dangerous as they were before.
4. Reclaim Australia and fascist groups have now called something like 18 rallies to take place in various locations in the near future.
5. On 19 July they plan at least 14 rallies around Australia against Islam, against Mosques, against the right to wear cultural dress, against Muslim businesses, against refugees and against multiculturalism. We are working with comrades all around Australia to counter each one of those racist rallies.
6. On 18 July they plan at least one rally in Melbourne on all of the above issues. However, in their publicity, they are describing it as a retaliation against the Melbourne left for having successfully opposed them on the 4 April. We will join with No Room for Racism in a united counter rally that stops the Reclaim Australia movement.
7. On 31 May, the fascist components are promising a very aggressive rally against Yarra City Council, the Socialist Party and prominent members of the Socialist Party including Stephen Jolly, Anthony Main and Mel Gregson.
8. It is possible that on 31 May splinters of the fascist components will attempt to attack the meeting called Uniting Against Islamophobia that will be held at the Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, as the leadership of the Socialist Party will be participating in the meeting.
9. A number of left organisations are attempting to mobilise against this new threat.
10. One left meeting that was held on 19 May established a coalition to help organise against the fascists and racists. It is understood that what is required is actually a much wider mobilisation in the labour movement and in the left, and in communities across Melbourne and Australia. However, this was a useful first step.
11. We called this coalition Campaign Against Racism and Fascism. It is not meant to be exclusive or even the complete answer to what we are facing. However we need structures in order to organise.
12. We have called a counter mobilisation to the fascist rally expected in Richmond on Sunday 31 May.
13. We have also called for defence of the Uniting Against Islamophobia meeting that will be held on 31 May at the Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne at 2pm.
14. We will defend Stephen Jolly, Anthony Main and Mel Gregson and the Socialist Party and the meeting.
15. We have stopped the fascists before. We will stop the fascists again. They will not break our movement.
Campaign Against Racism and Fascism
21 May 2015
The principal spokespersons for the UPF are Shermon Burgess, Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson. Burgess is from NSW while Cottrell and Erikson are from VIC.
Burgess is better known as ‘The Great Aussie Patriot’ and until recently was the principal propagandist for RA, a network of anti-Muslim activists which emerged in January 2015. Prior to this, Burgess was active as a member of the Australian Defence League. He is also notorious for having composed songs for the Internet project ‘Eureka Brigade’. The chorus for their song ‘Border Patrol’ (now removed from YouTube) gives some indication of the pathological hatred for Muslims, asylum seekers and refugees the band expressed: ‘We’re sick of your shariah burn your fucking mosques, it’s time to show you muzzrats we’re the fucking boss, you thought you had it easy but you surely lost, Cronulla was Australia’s Muslim holocaust.’ Other songs include ‘ADL Killing Machine’ and ‘Shit On A Mosque’.
See also : Far right targets Muslims with hate campaign, Greg Ansley, The New Zealand Herald, April 26, 2014.
Cottrell is the face of a newly-formed group called ‘National Democratic Party of Australia’ and spoke at the RA rally in Melbourne in the company of members of neo-Nazi grouplet ‘Nationalist Alternative’. Over the past several years Cottrell has expressed admiration for the achievements of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, hatred and suspicion of Jews, and an especially virulent form of misogyny. (Like Burgess, Cottrell has made some effort to erase his online record.)
Erikson is the face of another fascist project called ‘Nationalist Republican Guard’ (NRG) and throughout 2015 has worked closely with Burgess to promote RA, chiefly through the publication of various videos. Like Cottrell, Erikson has publicly endorsed Nazism, has attended neo-Nazi events in Melbourne — including neo-Nazi gigs organised by Blood & Honour and the Southern Cross Hammerskins and attendance at the tour of Canadian Holocaust denialist Paul Fromm — and has a criminal conviction (February 2014) for harassing a rabbi.
• Please note that UPF has become increasingly shrill in their appeals to their supporters to attend on May 31 and to take up the fight against ‘the left’, a force which is understood as being one of the main impediments to their goal of cleansing Australia of Muslims.
• Richmond is a suburb with a diverse cultural, ethnic and national population and residents should be rightly concerned at the presence of of an organised group of neo-Nazis, fascists and racists on their streets. This applies both before, during and after the event.
• Those attending the counter-rally may find the following links useful: A quick guide to staying safe and being effective: all out against ‘Reclaim Australia’!, Anarchist Affinity, April 3, 2015 | Activist Rights | Melbourne Street Medic Collective.