Anarchists claim Northcote Neo-Nazi attack
October 14, 2009
NEO-NAZI skinheads allegedly staged a pay-back attack on Melbourne’s anarchist headquarters in Northcote recently.
Anarchists claim the four men, one armed with pepper spray, stormed into an activists’ meeting at the Melbourne Anarchist Resource Centre, [home to] Barricade Books on St Georges Rd on [Monday], September 28, knocking over bookshelves and demanding the group end its anti-fascist activities.
No one was hurt in the incident.
A spokesperson for the anarchist collective said during the attack, the group’s ringleader accused the meeting of graffiting anti-fascist slogans on a Burwood tattoo parlour and warned of violent repercussions if it continued these activities.
“They screamed and shouted, pushed over book shelves, crowded individuals, and threatened physical violence,” said the spokesperson.
“No-one was hurt…we were all a bit shaken.”
The spokesperson said the centre would stay open and the Melbourne Anarchist Club remained “committed to continuing to facilitate anarchist activity in Melbourne”.
Northcote Police said they had no record of the incident.
The Melbourne Anarchist Club has released a statement on the incident, which has been published on Melbourne Indymedia (and elsewhere).
A little history
In general, neo-Nazi and fascist activity is subject to the same peaks and troughs as any other form of political activism.
In the 1980s, the two dominant forces on the far right were Jack van Tongeren’s ‘Australian Nationalists Movement’ (ANM), principally confined to WA, and James Saleam’s ‘National Action’ (NA), which largely confined itself to NSW.
Australian Nationalists Movement
The ANM came to notoriety through its conduct of an arson campaign against Asian-owned businesses in Perth, a campaign intended to drive Asian-Australians from the state and to create a ‘Whites Only’ Western Australia (with van Tongeren as its führer). The plan came unstuck when police arrested those responsible, with van Tongeren himself — a former member of NA — sentenced to a lengthy prison term (1989-2002) for his role as the chief architect. The campaign was murderous as well as violent: ANM member David Locke was killed by two associates after he was suspected of being a police informer.
- In 1993, the ANM was the subject of a documentary, Nazi Supergrass, by David Bradbury:
“A film that reveals the extraordinary race war waged by the neo-Nazi Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM) in the late eighties in Western Australia.
This is the chilling story of neo Nazi terrorism under the Southern Cross in suburbia. It explores the dark underworld of neo-Nazis in Australia. Ex-Vietnam vet Jack van Tongeren modelled himself on Hitler and was convinced he was the modern day Fuhrer destined to lead Australia out of a corrupt world where Jews, Asians and Aborigines defiled the majority Anglo Saxon race. Van Tongeren and his Aryan army of malcontent criminals and teenage skinheads lead a terrifying ‘war’ in Perth of the late 80’s firebombing Asian restaurants and defacing Jewish synagogues…”
Released in 2002, van Tongeren launched another campaign, this time to promote his manifesto and a further attempt to enter Parliament. Like his previous campaign, it was not a roaring success (see : White supremacist Wallys: Weerheym in The West Australian, July 9, 2007; Racist jailed for ‘stunt bomb plot’, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 24, 2007; WA police say “You’re under arrest!”; Billing and van Tongeren say “Huh?”, April 5, 2006).
National Action was formally launched on ANZAC Day (April 25) in 1982. It was at about this time that Saleam bought his property in Tempe (a suburb of Sydney), which became NA’s HQ (and which now forms the HQ of the ‘Australia First Party’). Of this period, David Greason writes:
From 1984 onwards National Action was regularly in the newspapers, accused of terrorism against leftists and anti-racist activists. Saleam would always be there, denying it all, and claiming a set-up by the political police of the NSW Special Branch, hoping no doubt that he could become the new Tim Anderson.
Both the roll-call of violence and harassment against National Action’s critics was damning. Journalist Denis Freney received phoned death threats and had his windows shot through. Bronwyn Ridgway of the NSW Nurses Association had her car firebombed. Meredith Burgmann, now a NSW Labor MP, had the windows of her house bricked. Anti-apartheid activist John Brink had a Molotov cocktail thrown through his bedroom window. Three masked men necklaced an effigy outside the home of Reverend Dorothy McMahon of the Pitt Street Uniting Church. National Action members stormed a dinner, shouting death threats at NSW Liberal Helen Sham-Ho. A meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force was disrupted. Conservative commentator Dr Gerard Henderson received death threats after criticising National Action in a newspaper column. The Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, Irene Moss, had racist slogans daubed on her garage.
The case that brought National Action undone, however, came in January 1989, when Eddie Funde, Australian representative of the African National Congress, had his front door shot through. Shotgun pellets were found near his child’s cradle. National Action members Jason Frost and Michael White were arrested. They both implicated Saleam, telling the court that he had given them a balaclava, a shotgun and eight dollars each for a drink to steady their nerves. That had to be Jim, I thought on reading their story. Anyone else would have given them a fifty each.
Saleam claimed it was the political police again, trying to wreck the nationalist cause. The jury was not so persuaded and, in May 1991, Saleam was sentenced to three and a half years jail. This was his second time inside — in April 1989 he’d been sentenced to two years’ hard labour for fraud and receiving stolen property. ‘Ironically, Saleam received his sentence on the same day as the centenary of Hitler’s birth’, the Sydney Morning Herald noted.
Further, on April 20, 1991, National Action member Perry Whitehouse murdered another NA member, Wayne “Bovver” Smith, at the organisation’s inner-Sydney headquarters after an argument.
With the departure of Saleam and the collapse of its Sydney base, control of National Action fell into the lap of Adelaide NA führer Michael Brander. Brander carried on the struggle for several more years, attempting to (further) extend NA’s influence to Melbourne by way of establishing a shopfront in Fawkner in January 1997; the shop was closed in April 1998; barely 15 months after it was opened.
As for Brander, he enrolled at LaTrobe University and, having completed his MA in history, has since been welcomed with open arms by the ‘neo-conservative’ / reactionary Quadrant magazine, which re-published his MA thesis on ‘Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the West’ in its March 2005 edition. Brander also addressed a post-graduate conference organised by the University of Sydney in July 2005, and is currently alleged to be publishing a zine called Australian Resurgence. (For further details, see : Anti-fascism in Melbourne: 1990s, March 20, 2007).
- “National Action,” a former member of the group tells me, “was like a model aircraft club with the occasional murder. There were the skinheads and the thugs and the nutters on the fringes, but basically, apart from that, it was a bunch of blokes without girlfriends.”
Australia First Party
Having abandoned NA, after his release from prison Saleam eventually made his way to Graeme Campbell’s Australia First Party (AF), established in June 1996. Following Campbell’s resignation in June 2001, Diane Teasdale became its national president. In 2002, a new AFP branch was formed in Sydney, under Saleam’s control (and which has become the new centre of gravity for the party).
Having contested numerous elections since its formation, its only electoral success thus far has been the election of Bruce Preece to local council in Adelaide in November 2006.
In 2007, AF underwent a split, leading to the creation of two rival groups named AF — one based in Sydney and the other in Shepparton (Victoria) — and a new group titled the ‘Australian Protectionist Party’.
Since 2001, AF, along with others on the far right, has organised an annual conference titled the ‘Sydney Forum’. It has enjoyed the support of various RSL Clubs in Sydney (Bexley, Eastwood and Petersham) and has also been hosted at The Bunker in Tempe. This year’s Forum took place on the weekend of September 26/27, and participants were drawn from a range of far right groups, including the New Right Australia, Australia First Party, One Nation, “National Anarchists”, and the neo-Nazi muzak networks Volksfront and Blood and Honour.
On September 28, the day following the Forum, four neo-Nazis belonging to Blood and Honour and the Hammerskins attacked the Melbourne Anarchist Resource Centre.
- On AF, Saleam and the Sydney Forum, see : Move over One Nation, here comes Australia First!, October 13, 2009; Petersham RSL proudly presents : Gangrene Dreams @ the 2009 Sydney Forum, October 1, 2009; 2009 Sydney Forum : Redux, September 29, 2009; Dr James Saleam & ‘The Audacity of Hate’, September 26, 2009.
Melbourne Anarchist Resource Centre
The Melbourne Anarchist Resource Centre hosts a number of different groups, including the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation and Barricade Books. Since opening to the public late last year, MARC has hosted film screenings (including a festival of Spanish-language films organised by the Latin American Solidarity Network or LASNET), gigs, parties, workshops and a range of other events, in solidarity and co-operation with a wide range of other community groups.
Barricade opened its doors for the first time at 115 Sydney Road, Brunswick on February 4, 1995; the outcome of several years preparation by a loose association of local anarchists. Notably, Barricade is the fourth such shop to open in Melbourne since the beginning of the 1970s.
Barricade’s opening didn’t go unnoticed, as just five months later, on July 11, neo-Nazis smashed the shop’s windows. As a result, for almost two years, the infoshop looked like a real live barricade, with ‘temporary’ iron sheets placed over the front windows. Still, the infoshop continued to function.
The smashing of the shop’s windows, and their replacement with temporary hoardings, was followed by various forms of low-level harassment, including the painting of swastikas on the shop’s front door on Invasion Day, January 26, 1996. An anti-fascist demonstration was held in Brunswick soon after, and marched to Barricade in solidarity. Finally, in June 1997, at the end of a long but eventually successful battle with the local council, the shop was fitted with bullet proof plexi-glass.
Since the attack on September 28 of this year, the roller door on the front of MARC has been repeatedly daubed with swastikas and slogans.
In August 2009, the SMH reported that “GRAFFITI daubed on the home of the NSW Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, is believed to have been done by a group that has links to neo-Nazis. An unknown group painted ”88” on his eastern suburbs home, on the footpath and on the house of a neighbour at the weekend. Among far right-wing groups, the number 88 is taken to represent HH, shorthand for Heil Hitler…” (Neo-Nazi graffiti on Roozendaal home, Brian Robins, August 17, 2009).
A VIP, the neo-Nazi graffiti on Roozendaal’s house gained the attention of national media; not being VIPs, the attack on MARC, despite being of a more threatening nature, has been thus far ignored by all but a local newspaper. It did, however, come to the attention of current AF and former ‘White Pride Coalition Australia’ member Jim Perren, who wrote the following in response to the attack on his blog, ‘Whitelaw Towers’ (a blog which is recommended reading material for AF, and whose main author uses the email address ‘[email protected]’):
Strangely, bizarrely even, it appears @ndy, following months of sustained and concentrated provocation against White Nationalists, has proven to lack the intestinal fortitude for an actual confrontation.
After orchestrating a series of cowardly attacks including (alleged) actual vandalism, he has ‘bottled’ at the first signs of any form of response, let alone real retaliation, and gone running to his handlers in the Government and their attack dogs in the Law Enforcement Agencies.
Oh, what a guy!
Oh, what an “Anarchist”.
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
That last comment from ‘bad idea’ is an absolute hoot. Folks, just pinch yourselves and bear in mind we are supposedly talking about ‘Anarchists’ here.
Authoritarian, law abiding, state collaborating ‘Anarchists’ quoting [l]aws, regulations and statutes?
Have we missed something here?
Whatever happened to the Revolution @ndy?
For reasons best known to Jim, the post has since been deleted from his blog.
‘Fear of Nazi revival’, Northcote Leader, Monday, July 17, 1995:
The Friends of Barricade Bookshop group fears a resurgence of neo-Nazi activity in Brunswick after two attacks on its bookshop in as many months. The group claims neo-Nazis smashed its windows at Barricade Bookshop in Sydney Road last Tuesday. “We believe the attack was buoyed by [an earlier] police raid because the news had gone out on the streets and the neo-Nazis acted in response to that”, group member [SS] said. Mr S said members feared a resurgence of neo-Nazi activity similar to that in March last year. Mr S said two witnesses saw three young men, who looked like [boneheads], smash the windows about 1am.
‘Nazi attack on Brunswick shop’, The Melbourne Times, February 7, 1996:
The front of [DG]’s house and the Barricade book shop in Sydney Road, Brunswick, have something in common — they are swathed in swastikas. Barricade Books has a distinctly war-zone ambience, with its smashed windows and semi-permanent shutters… The response from the Brunswick community was a rally at the traditional battleground — Brunswick Town Hall — followed by a march to Barricade Books. The protesters mostly matched the ambience of the any-and-all cause bookshop — shaved heads, coloured hair, overalls, work boots and politics ranging from the local Radical Women group to anarchists to mainstream politicians making election speeches… Speeches were made about “scum” who only come out in the dead of night — in 1993 a group of young National Action members did rally at the town hall, where they were pelted with eggs and abuse… Eventually, after mutual congratulations on a fine rally, the crowd went home — or popped into Barricade for a fresh supply of stickers and PC t-shirts. One member of Barricade’s collective organising committee said the steel shutters would remain while the bookshop tried to get permission to put up proper night security shutters to protect the windows.”