18 July – There have been chaotic scenes on Melbourne’s streets as anti-racism protesters and nationalists clash in demonstrations.
Anti-Islamic groups Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front (UPF) held rallies in several cities and towns on Saturday.
Subsequent anti-racism groups launched counter rallies in response to the protests, holding banners saying “No Room for Racism”.
There were violent scuffles in Melbourne, reminiscent of scenes when the two groups met during demonstrations earlier this year.
Bottles were thrown in the streets, protesters from both sides were punched and kicked as the rival groups clashed.
Some masked protesters attempted to barge through the police blockade but were met with force as officers resisted.
About 400 police members were on hand including officers mounted on horses who rammed through the crowds.
Officers used capsicum spray to subdue the crowds and protesters were seen on the ground having milk poured in their eyes.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said the use of capsicum spray was justified.
“The [police] were at significant threat of having their lines over run and it was a tool we had to use at the time,” he said.
Police said at least four people were arrested for violence-related offences including attacks on police horses.
Assistant Commissioner Leane said he was disappointed hardline protesters from both sides were involved in the violence.
Reclaim Australia protesters outnumbered in Adelaide
In Adelaide there were tense scenes as Reclaim Australia and anti-racism demonstrators converged at Parliament House.
At 11:00am there was a small number of the Reclaim Australia group who were flanked by lines of police officers, including some on horseback.
The group was outnumbered by anti-racism groups and other opponents.
About 200 members of Reclaim Australia took to chanting, shouting and blaring loud music to get their message across and drown out the 400 or so opponents on the other side of the police barricade
At least one person was arrested and several others cautioned for breaking through police lines at the rally in Adelaide.
Perth: Reclaim Australia protesters face off with anti-racism activists
19 July – Two anti-racism protesters were handcuffed after a melee with police at the Reclaim Australia rally at Parliament House on Sunday.
About 250 protesters for the Reclaim Australia movement were greeted by a counter rally of equal numbers at Solidarity Park.
Some of the anti-racism activists, who were carrying banners and signs and heckling the right-wing group’s speeches, had gathered at close proximity behind the Reclaim Australia camp, chanting “Nazi scum off our streets”.
As the heckling grew more agitated police dragged a man from the crowd.
A group of about 50 other protesters rushed to the man’s aid and a number of police on horseback had to intervene between protesters and the police officers.
One man was handcuffed and brought to the northern side of Parliament Place.
Another man was also removed from the crowd and put into handcuffs.
About 40 police officers, some on horseback, were keeping a watchful eye on the opposing rallies and built lines of separation between the protesting groups.
Danielle of Fremantle brought her two teenaged children along to show support for Australian Muslims.
“I want Australian Muslims to know that not all Australians feel the way the Reclaim Australia supporters do,” she said.
“I’m embarrassed and shamed by them.”
WA campaign group United Against Racism and Bigotry had called for people to challenge “racists and far-right activists” gathering at the historic site of the 1997 “Workers’ Embassy” via social media.
Earlier UABR spokesperson Miranda Wood said that there was no doubting the intent of the Reclaim Australia protesters who were also staging their rally at the park.
“Let’s be clear about who these people are. These people are racist. These people are dangerous. They openly oppose multiculturalism and immigration,” she said.
“We’re rallying to say these people have no right bringing their violent hate speech to our public spaces.”
Sydney: Reclaim Australia group and protesters clash
Five people have been arrested as protesters from the Reclaim Australia rally and counter-rally clashed violently in Martin Place on Sunday.
About 150 members of the Reclaim Australia group gathered in the city on Sunday morning, some wearing ancient Greek army costumes and others with Australian flags draped across their shoulders.
Two blocks away, a loud counter-protest group waved banners saying “Stand With Multiculturalism Against Racism” and “No Racism, no Islamophobia.”
A police operation, comprising officers from the Central Metropolitan Region and specialist units, was in place.
Several men wearing Australian flags were chased by protesters about 10.20am. The counter-rally was to interrupt the rally by Reclaim Australia, a far-right nationalist group that was protesting against what it calls the “Islamisation of Australia”.
Protesters shouted “Nazi scum, off our streets,” as they gave chase down Pitt Street.
Banners reading “stand with multiculturalism against racism” and “no racism, no Islamophobia” were held high by the louder, larger group of anti-racism protesters.
Separate rallies continued at the top and bottom of Martin Place until about 12.30pm, with a heavy police presence restricting some movement through the area.
Counter-rally organiser Amy Thomas said the Reclaim Australia group could not go unanswered.
“We think that if they’re allowed to get away with it, it could build confidence and lead to a rise in racist attacks.”