[Update (December 7, 2017) :
• As noted below, on Tuesday morning, Stephen Leane, Assistant Commissioner with overall responsibility for the police operation on Monday, was asked by a journalist ‘Did police enter the housing commission flats at any point?’, to which his response was ‘Not in the flats, no. We were certainly in Racecourse Road and we closed down traffic for some time.’ AFAIK, no media reportage has challenged this nonsense.
• Some local folks have composed an ‘open letter’ re the event, to which others are invited to add their names. It is a clear public statement against the hate and violence that occurred on Monday night during the Milo Yiannopoulos event at the Melbourne Pavilion. The letter is designed to allow local community members, representatives, businesses, organisations and community leaders to show a united voice in condemning the hate and abuse directed at particularly housing estate residents on the night.
• On Wednesday, it was also announced that Melbourne Pavilion and tour organisers will be sent an invoice for the costs of the police operation. It’ll be interesting to see if they actually cough up. See : Milo Yiannopoulos and his promoters will be billed at least $50k by Victoria Police for protests, Melissa Cunningham, The Age, December 6, 2017.
• Finally, The Australian has published a report that some of the nazis attracted to Milo’s event abused a Jewish woman: At first, she thought she’d misheard. Then she turned and looked at the faces of the men glaring at her, chanting in unison. “Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau.’’ She hadn’t misheard. There was no mistake; only a hatred deeper than Perry, a woman readily identifiable as Jewish, could have imagined.]
[Note : The venue for Milo’s performance in Sydney tonight is Le Montage.]
Above : Richard Wolstencroft.
That was interesting.
On the Melbourne leg of his tour, Milo Yiannopoulos was kindly provided a platform by Melbourne Pavilion (135-157 Racecourse Rd, Kensington: Facebook): a venue which, prior to hosting the Nazi-sympathising paedophile apologist, was more widely known for staging wedding receptions and boxing matches.
[On meathead and his tour, see : Milo Yiannopoulos speaks, and Australia’s respectable racists howl their approval, Jeff Sparrow, The Guardian, December 5, 2017 | Inside Milo: ‘He Dressed In Gay Frilly Stuff And Had Ridiculous Red Shiny Shoes’, Chris Graham, New Matilda, December 5, 2017 | Milo Has A Platform Because He Upholds The Status Quo, Which Speaks Volumes About Australia, Michael Brull, December 4, 2017 | Australia’s welcome mat for right-wing trolls, Richard Cooke, The Saturday Paper, October 21, 2017.]
Most of the reportage on the event (‘VIOLENCE! CLASHES! DALEKS!’) has concentrated upon one incident that took place early in the evening. (Indeed, the original account published in The Age suggests that the author left the rally to attend the event inside shortly after this occurred.) A little after 6pm, ‘Patriot Blue’ — on this occasion consisting of Neil Erikson, Garry Hume, Toll Group’s Ricky/Rikki Turner, Richard Whelan and possibly others — rocked up to the protest, which had assembled across one half of Stubbs Street at the Racecourse Road intersection, and immediately attempted to barge their way thru it. Consequently, there was a clash, police intervened (employing capsicum spray) and two men were detained: this appears to be the basis of the claim that two men were arrested on the night. (Note: As usual, police will be compiling and reviewing media in order to identify any potential wrongdoers, especially kids on the estate, with a view to laying charges; as is now customary, spray was fairly liberally dispensed throughout the evening.)
The Moles snuck into the Garden last night.
Beyond this, the evening mostly consisted of watching Milo fanboys (and some fangrrls), some wearing MAGA hats, and a handful chucking up Nazi salutes, slowly trickle their way thru to the venue, which was surrounded by hundreds of police whose job it was to guarantee their safe passage to and from it. There were a small number of clashes throughout the evening, and some folks misplaced their MAGA hats and Dangerous books; reportedly, one young patriot attempted to remove a Muslim woman’s headscarf at some point during the evening: a bad decision which left him feeling rather sick and sorry, but safely delivered back to Milo’s mob.
In a media conference this morning, Assistant Police Commissioner Stephen Leane, who had overall responsibility for the police operation, stated that there were three performances by Milo, each attracting 1,000 punters. This would seem to over-inflate the numbers actually attending: others say much fewer. Leane also exclaims over the fact that protesters were able to move about and, especially, around the police blockade established at the top of Stubbs Street … possibly through the use of an elaborate communication system involving hand signals, bells and whistles (rather than, say, bRanes) and one practiced in ‘open fields’, which is a new one. In any case, the movement around the blockade was, in reality, inspired by reports that the nazi mob (below) were trying to have a crack at locals — and by a desire to defend locals rather than simply mill about in Stubbs Street exchanging insults with the chuds.
In addition to the many hundreds of potatoes who threw money at Milo, a small group of 30–50 individuals, mostly consisting of members of the Soldiers of Odin and True Blue Crew, but including The Lads Society, Avi Yemini and his sidekick Daniel Jones, Julian de Ross (‘Hugh Pearson’) and even naughty little boy Lachlan/Logan Spalding and a handful of other faces, formed their own rally at the intersection of Racecourse Road and Stubbs Street. This was (mostly) kettled and police, for some reason, allowed them to maintain a presence at that location for several hours, just as increasing numbers of folks from the housing estate, eventually numbering in the hundreds, joined the protest. Note: the boys finally departed sometime around 8:30 to 9:00pm. As they did so, a small group of perhaps 20, including Blair Cottrell, members of SOO and TBC, jumped three protesters leaving the protest, who were beaten and eventually made their way to hospital.
More on that later.
The Best Laid Plans
According to police, the venue, Melbourne Pavilion, was not obtained by organisers until the day of the event. Situated across the road from Kensington public housing estate, it was not the ideal location for an anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and pro-paedophile bigot, especially given the large proportion of African and Muslim migrants living on the estate and the racial profiling residents are subject to. I suppose the sting in that tail is that police have declared that they’ll be issuing Melbourne Pavilion an invoice for the costs of the policing operation, which will surely be tens of thousands of dollars. This may cut somewhat into the profits the business hoped to earn thru facilitating expressions of hatred and bigotry, so is very richly deserved.
On the whole, it’s unclear precisely what the concrete, tactical objectives of the various maneuverings by the riot squad were, given both their actions and the context. Thus, by allowing a small clutch of nazis and other goons to hang about outside the estate for hours, it seemed as if the riot squad were actually intent on provoking one. Leftist protesters were joined by an increasingly large number of locals as the night wore on, and everybody’s patience at having Milo, potatoes and nazis on their doorstep also wore out.
Two final observations: first, a handful of malcontents managed to sneak into Milo’s performance, including two sex-worker anarchist women. At about 8:30pm, the dynamic duo let off personal alarms and shouted slogans; smoke from a small fire that was started in the venue toilets added to the general ambience. (One of the woman was escorted out by police and security, while the other was able to leave undetected.) Secondly, the bulk of the CARF contingent left the area after 10pm. From about 10:30pm, riot police made several attempts to storm the estate (car park and gardens) where local youth and a small contingent of anarchists were still gathered. According to one report, each time they were repelled by rocks and other projectiles and were unable to make any arrests or injure anybody and finally retreated to the other side of Racecourse Road (where the main group of police were congregated). Notably, during the course of his media conference, Assistant Commissioner Leane denied police entered the estate, which is biZaRrE, as there’s certainly no shortage of evidence to the contrary.
*I’ll probably add some more detail to the above account and share others, but in the meantime:
Weapon-wielding protesters clash outside Yiannopoulos talk
December 5, 2017
Extra security measures are to be put in place when controversial alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos visits Parliament House in Canberra today, after police came under attack outside a speaking engagement he hosted in Melbourne last night.
Protesters pelted police with rocks, glass bottles and sticks, as left and right-wing groups clashed violently outside the Melbourne Pavilion.
Numbers swelled to more than 500 at the violent protest, which saw several brawls break out and police forced to deploy capsicum spray in a bid to stop the fighting.
A police officer was injured and two men were arrested during the violence, with objects still being thrown at officers by what appeared to be groups of young people who lived nearby, even after the organised anti-fascist protesters left the area just after 10pm.
A Victoria Police spokesman said police arrested the two men for discharging missiles.
“A police member suffered minor injuries after being struck with a rock,” he said.
At one stage, several fireworks were also let off in the grounds outside the large block of flats opposite the venue.
About a dozen men were involved in the initial stoush that broke out about 6.20pm outside the venue in Melbourne’s inner northwest shortly after far-right provocateur Neil Erikson and members of his Patriot Blue group arrived.
Erikson was seen brandishing a stick before another man intervened and dragged him aside.
At least a dozen heavily padded riot police charged the group, with officers later seen leading away two men dressed in high-visibility shirts.
One of them appeared to be affected by capsicum spray. Police are understood to have made at least one arrest.
A second larger brawl broke out around 8pm, sparked by an attempt by two men to unfurl a large banner on the outskirts of the protest. Several members of a far-right group broke through a police line and tried to yank it from them. Riot police were again forced to use capsicum spray to break up the fight. [I think the author may well have got this arse-backwards, ie, the two men were unfurling a Trump banner.]
The size of the gathering swelled significantly throughout the evening as residents, believed to be from the nearby public housing blocks, emerged. At one stage a man with a loudspeaker and wearing a jumper with the logo “Soldiers of Odin” shouted abuse at the group, which appeared to include several Muslim women. [There were several LOldiers present.]
The Melbourne leg of Yiannolopous‘s show, The Troll Academy, attracted around 500 protesters, with police deploying around 100 officers, including about 40 members of the Riot Squad, in anticipation. At one stage police were pelted with rocks.
The crowd, which saw traffic blocked off for several hours, included opponents of the unapologetically contrarian commentator, who has sparked outrage for describing feminism as a cancer and likening Islam to Aids. [Also, inter alia, collaborating with neo-Nazis in the United States via Breitbart and being a apologist for child rape.] Groups included the left-wing Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, who held placards stating ‘F*** off Nazi scum’ and chanted “Hey Milo go to hell”, as well as right-wing groups Patriot Blue, Reclaim Australia[?], The Freedom Party [ie, George Jameson] and Soldiers of Odin.
Erikson, who is known for being one of the first people to be convicted under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act and last month accosted NSW Senator Sam Dastyari at a university pub, defended his role in the stoush, describing it as “democracy in Australia”.
“I know one of my guys was taken down. I got into a bit of a scuffle with a few,” he said.
“We had to defend ourselves.”
Two days earlier he had tweeted: “Got a big surprise for the feral left at the Milo event on Monday”.
Video footage posted on Erikson’s facebook page shows him with a loud speaker shouting religious abuse at a group of antifa protesters, who had been joined residents from the nearby housing block, some of whom wore Islamic religious garb.
“Mohammed is a paedophile,” he said repeatedly, in the footage which he appeared to film himself.
“The third world want to attack us.
“This is free speech,” he said.
The footage shows his associate Blair Cottrell, a founder of the far-right United Patriot’s Front, standing next to him.
Erikson claimed one of his associates had been arrested after a brawl and that another one of his associates had been hit in the head by a projectile.
See also : In my words: local communities assaulted by Milo fascists and riot police, Tasnim Sammak, Djed Press, December 5, 2017 | Melbourne protesters defy cops, challenge Milo Yiannopoulos, Vashti Kenway, Red Flag, December 6, 2017 | Monday night in Flemington, Vashti Kenway, Overland, December 6, 2017 | ‘They’re Trying To Change Our Holidays’: What Drew Young Australians To Milo Yiannopoulos?, Max Koslowski, New Matilda, December 6, 2017.
Melbourne Activist Legal Support states that policing at the protest against the Milo Yiannopoulos protest event in Flemington did not take into account or prioritise the safety of the local community. On the night, MALS attempted to communicate with senior police present to move the small right wing protest back down Stubbs [Street] and far away from the housing estate. They had ample power and means to do that.
Instead police cordons gave Soldiers of Odin and True Blue Crew a prominent location in the middle of Racecourse Road from where they were able to shout obscenities at local residents. Moving the right wing protest group further down Stubbs [Street] closer to the venue and away from the housing estate communities could have prioritised the safety of local residents and those most impacted by racist and Islamophobic abuse from those groups.
Whilst we have limited capacity to support follow up activities, we are awaiting advice from our allies at Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre as to further steps that will be taken. They have offered LEGAL SUPPORT for local people from the housing estate who were arrested and assaulted. You can get in touch with them. Contact details on their website.
Regarding any additional arrests of protesters we assume those who called the event will be supporting any activists arrested with connection to friendly lawyers.
For others who attended, we recommend debriefing with friends and family and ensuring injuries are documented, and footage backed up and secured should there be capacity for follow up [see : https://www.activist-trauma.net].
If there is capacity to collate witness statements and use evidence to demonstrate inappropriate conduct we suggest you consider the following:
* Ensure your footage is backed up in addition to your phone, and you have advised protest coordinators or anyone else tracking incidents of your contact details and what you have recorded if it demonstrates clear and useful detail.
* Write a witness statement if you recall details of specific incidents that may be useful later in court. Tips here: [PDF].
We would also like to suggest that people who were at the protest ensure they decontaminate themselves and their clothes appropriately, if they were subject to pepper/OC spray, to avoid further injury and discomfort. Don’t cross contaminate clothes when washing. Some information here.
Look after each other folks. If we become aware of any further updates regarding follow up we will keep you advised.