Antifa

“Reclaim Australia rallies tomorrow across the nation. They claim they’re going to take back Australia, saving us from “the threat of sharia law”. Never mind that the law imposed on this country was done so by genocidal acts of dispossession. This land is not theirs to reclaim, nor the state and the cops to decide who should be free to come and go or what laws we are subjugated to. Whether the far right or the government, the only enemy is the ones who want to strip us of our rights and divide our communities.
I urge all anti-racist people to join the counter-rallies across the country and take a stand against racism, fascism and Islamophobia.
Lex Wotton.”

On Sunday The AnarchyShow went to the Reclaim Australia Counter Rally.

It was quite well attended and the crowd was energetic and well engaged. Before I got there the police had apparently tried to keep the anti fascist (antifa) crew up in the corner of Roma St Forum Emma Miller Place to give the fascists the actual forum part of the space.

Antifa didn’t let this happen though and pushed past the police ensuring that the fascists only had the corner of the space closest to Roma St Station. So good to see a bit of civil disobedience.

So it played out after that fairly much as expected there was a PA on our side with fairly much an open mic. Others had megaphones.

When Anna arrived she walked into the Reclaim space and unplugged as much of their PA as possible. We didn’t find out til later, reading a news report (see the MSM can be useful) that Reclaim Australia had.. wait for it… issues with their PA… This may have been caused by Anna we don’t know but I did say to her that they probably wouldn’t know how to plug it back in so that may well have caused it.

Despite the organisers of the Reclaim Australia rallies telling attendees not to I don’t know basically not to look like neo nazis or actual nazis someone came dressed as Hilter and others had Swastikas tattooed on their bodies or proudly displayed on placards.

I guess the PA problems explain why I didn’t hear any of the choice music RA played but it was equalled by our side playing John Farnham you’re the Voice… which I haven’t heard on the left since the World Economic Forum Protests in Melbourne 15 years ago. It was played because Farnsy told the Reclaimers he didn’t want them to use his music.

Anyway this promoted me to say much like ‘the enemy of my enemy is not my friend the music of my enemy is not my music’.

At about 3 o’clock the Reclaim Australia folk called it a day.. as we waited for them to slither off and crawl back into the holes they came from one of them got really angry and couldn’t contain himself anymore. He ran towards the barricades which were keeping us separated gesticulating rudely and yelling. After a while he gave up and left defeated with the others.

We then marched to King George Square… a little too fast for my liking… could have slowed down and celebrated taking the streets, and I think we could have pushed things by going further but that didn’t happen.

So… see you at the next one!!

hitler by nic smith
Hitler photo by Nic Smith

Here’s Anna’s version of the day –

In total, there were maybe 250 on our side & 100 on theirs. It was scheduled to start @ Emma Miller Place @ noon. I got to the Roma Street station @ 11.30am & was kinda surprised that I had to walk past the RA area to get to where around 100 ‘Say No To Racism’ folk were already pressed against police barriers & in full voice.

Noticing a way to get past police into their area I went in & ripped out anything I could see plugged in before some RA & cops came to stop me. The cops were a wee bit unsure what to do with me as I looked like ‘commie scum’ but needed a walking stick. I made a bit of a fuss & the RA wanted me arrested but cops just took me to our side haha.

Apparently each mob ended up where they did because our mob pushed through initial police lines while they were still setting up. Highlights: their PA not working; seeing Hitler, more than a few boneheads. Swastika & SS tatts got a guernsey & we genuinely made them really fucking mad. Catching a cop tapping his foot to “FUCK OFF NAZI FUCK OFF! FUCK OFF NAZI FUCK OFF!” was great. There was one arrest when a RA supporter tried to get over the police barrier: an exercise in futility as they had a line of cops stopping them & we had PSRT (Public Safety Response Team) riot cops stopping us.

The energy this time was amazing. It was an almost celebratory mood on our side, despite their increase in numbers & increase in bonehead presence.

An hour earlier out at Logan the PDLA held an anti immigration rally, so if they’d been there there may have been even more aggression from them as they seem to have some proper psychos in their ranks. Fuck knows why they did their own thing Sunday but aside from a small group of bikies turning up to the RA rally late I don’t think many from their rally rocked up.

Kim Vuga was at the RA rally but we could hear & see fuck all as when they had speakers they were forced to huddle together in the back of their area to hear anything. PA probs apparently. As I say it was a real party atmosphere on our side.

After a few hours RA organisers started rounding up their mob & they drifted off with police protection as usual (we weren’t able to leave our area) to the sounds of “YOU’LL ALWAYS LOSE IN BRISBANE” & “FUCK OFF NAZI FUCK OFF”. Our mob, when able to leave (about 30 mins after the fash) spontaneously took to the streets & marched to King George Square where people milled around before drifting off. We should’ve done a march through the city or had a street sit-in but hey …

Finally, another highlight was a number of new faces on our side who had attended as a direct result of Paris. It was the most anarchist comrades I’ve seen in one place for a while too and it was nice to catch up with people. Ummm … the cops even seemed to be a bit more receptive to our presence & a bit put out by RA causing them to use up so many resources this time. Their whole demeanour when dealing with us was quite reasonable. Police negotiators didn’t even bother with us either, just went straight to their mob. Anyway that’s about it … aside from some positive talk among anarchists about doing stuff out my way. Yay!

To read other reports from around Australia see Slack Bastard’s summary.

blaircotteral

This article is from the ABC… The United Patriots Front haven’t got a strong hold in Queensland yet but we have to expect them, after all Pauline Hansen grew to national significance from here.

Standing among the crowd at the anti-Muslim United Patriots Front rally in Bendigo, it was frightening to consider what they might be capable of. Make no mistake, this is fascism, writes Christine El-Khoury.

When Blair Cottrell, the ring-leader of the fascist street movement the United Patriots Front (UPF), addresses his horde of followers it looks like the blonde-haired body builder from Melbourne is about to blow his top:

“This here now is what creates communities and nations: togetherness, pride, love, the willingness to sacrifice not just some of your own time but if necessary your own life for the future of your own people!”

Even from a distance I can see his blood boil. His pale Anglo-Saxon complexion becomes red. His body tenses in his black muscle shirt, his fists clench by his side, his voice rises until he is yelling into the microphone:

“At the end of the day you can either be a Muslim or an Australian. It must be either or because the two do not co-relate and do not correspond.”

On this sunny day in October, Cottrell believes stopping the development of a mosque in the regional town of Bendigo is a matter of life and death, and he wants you to feel that way too:

“Never give up, no matter what these people say, no matter what they do. Just believe in each other. Feel the person next to you. Feel the energy connect to it, that’s what a community is!”

Cottrell remonstrates to the crowd which responds with cheers of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi” and waves of the Australian flag.

Only this isn’t a sporting match. This is not a game. This is a war-like call by an angry young man who wants the 350 people before him to protect his skewed – and dare I say it, delusional – view of what it means to be Australian.

When Cottrell reaches a crescendo, he salutes his audience by raising a fist to the air in one swift and forceful motion. Make no mistake, this is fascism. This is what hate looks like. As I stand amongst the predominantly male crowd – some young, some much older, many dressed in black with tattoos – it was frightening to consider what they might be capable of. Perhaps not here, where 400 police officers are standing by, but what seed might be planted in the minds of those listening? How emboldened might they become?

Before setting out to the Bendigo rally, I was curious about what drives these men to hate. The UPF had staged a highly offensive mock beheading at the Bendigo Council Chambers that I later discovered was designed to gain publicity. I wanted to be careful that by reporting on their activities, I wasn’t also promoting their agenda. The rallies that had been conducted so far weren’t huge, but the far-right had never mobilized quite like this before.

So, I began by making a few phone calls. I needed to get a better understanding of the history of far-right groups in Australia. I soon discovered that there has been little academic work in this area. As one academic quipped, “There’s plenty of research money available to look at jihadis, but not far-right extremists.”

It seems odd, considering Islamist extremism sits on the far-right spectrum alongside anti-Muslim hate, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. It suggests that historically far-right groups have been largely unsuccessful. The views these groups espouse have been considered “deviant” by the majority of society, and they have previously been difficult to infiltrate.

However, the rise of social media has provided a platform for a growing anti-Islam movement in Australia and the Western world to find like-minded souls, and much of their vitriol is available for public viewing.

Online, it looks like Cottrell and his fellow supporters (many of them former members of the military and Christian fundamentalists) are just a bunch of narcissistic fringe dwellers, who spend a lot of time uploading videos of themselves to Facebook. They rant about British culture, left-wing “f–tards”, the Bible and how much they hate Muslims.

It soon becomes clear though that the conversations being had online do need to be taken seriously – there have been threats to bomb mosques and kill Muslims. They may just be the anonymous ranting of “keyboard warriors” but I soon learned that some members of these far-right groups also have the means to facilitate these acts of violence should they choose to do so. For example, one member of the United Patriot Front declares via the group’s Facebook page that he is a gun-owner. He warns his fellow “patriots” to keep their firearms secure because the police are watching.

In the lead-up to protests last weekend, a member of Reclaim Australia was arrested and jailed for possessing five Tasers and a quantity of mercury. When police raided the home of 31-year-old Phillip Galea, they also found information about making explosives on Galea’s computer, along with an “extensive” amount of “extreme” material linked with far-right groups. When he appeared in court it was revealed Galea had been in possession of a weapon at another anti-immigration rally.

We do need to be concerned that since the Paris attacks, anti-Muslim hate has ratcheted up a notch. The Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) – a charity that tracks, reports and tries to take down hate speech online – has seen a sharp rise in both the quantity of hate and also the level of extremism being displayed on social media towards Muslims. It’s not unheard of for attacks against Muslims, especially women, to be carried out.

The CEO of the OHPI, Dr Andre Oboler, says it’s “very clear more needs to be done if we don’t want our values as a society, of inclusivity, multiculturalism and a fair go for all, to be put at risk.”

Kevin Dunn from Western Sydney University believes our political leaders are taking this threat to social cohesion seriously.

Dunn believes that Australia’s well-established and well-supported policy of multiculturalism will help ward off this growing anti-Muslim movement, but says when it comes to racism we cannot be complacent.

“Antipathy towards a group will grow through a vicious cycle in which it’s increasingly seen as the norm,” he says. But it also has the potential to de-escalate, “as it has with some of the other dominant antipathies that have been around in Australia’s past.”

Our overwhelming support for multiculturalism is evidence that Australia is not racist; in fact, it’s been the secret to our success as a country relatively free of political violence, according to Kevin Dunn.

If we want to keep it that way, we do need to take the level of antipathy currently being directed towards the Muslim community very seriously indeed.

Christine El-Khoury is an ABC journalist.

 

 

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