[Wednesday, November 1, 2006]
Protesters put hard word on Fitzroy pub
More than 150 punks, skinheads, feminists and other protesters picketed a Fitzroy hotel on Saturday to condemn a recent neo-Nazi concert at the pub.
Tensions were high when the protesters entered The Birmingham Hotel to demand that publican Gary, who wouldn’t give his surname, answer questions about the gig and join other Smith Street traders by putting an anti-racism sticker in his window.
“It’s not my job to ask people what their beliefs are,” Gary told the protesters who crowded the public bar. He agreed to put the sticker up if protesters left.
Patrons of the bar reacted angrily to the protesters, saying two neo-Nazi gigs in five years didn’t make The Birmingham a Nazi pub. A couple drinking at the pub told TMT they had been wrongly accused of Nazism and narrowly avoided being bashed by men driving past after they left the pub last week.
During Saturday’s protest, police broke up a scuffle between Gary and the punks who put stickers outside on the hotel’s signs.
“I don’t believe discriminatory groups have a right to organise,” said one of the punks, Adam (who also wouldn’t give his surname) from Footscray. “They have no justifiable reason to have a venue in our community.”
He said that neo-Nazi skinheads, or boneheads, were a small subculture within [sic] the punk and skinhead movements but people often didn’t understand the distinction. “We cop it from them as much as anyone.”
Protesters also attached placards reading “Fuck Nazis” and “Fuck off Fascists” to signs in Smith and Johnston Streets.
Claire from Coburg said: “We want to show this pub how much opposition there is to Nazism in this area, so they stop letting them come here.”