22 Nov – Hundreds of Reclaim Australia protesters and their anti-racist opponents have held rallies in cities and towns across Australia, with riot police using capsicum spray to subdue violent members of both groups.
Rallies were held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Alice Springs, as well as at Townsville and Cairns in north Queensland, Mildura in northwestern Victoria and Esperance in Western Australia.
At Melton in Melbourne’s outer northwest, there were six arrests as hundreds of police, including members of the air-wing, mounted branch and dog squad, maintained a barrier between about 500 protesters from each group.
A 29-year-old man who punched a police horse was subdued with capsicum spray and charged with animal cruelty, while three men were charged over possession of knives and another two with riotous behaviour.
Victoria Police Acting Commander Alan Byrnes said three members of the public were hurt, but the protest was largely peaceful. “It’s always a bit disappointing to see people turn up with masks,” he said. “You wonder what their motives are for doing that.”
A coalition of socialist, anarchist and unionist groups calling themselves No Room for Racism chanted “Nazi scum off our streets”, “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land” and “Shame, shame, Victoria Police”.
On the other side of the police line, Australian flag-clad youths screamed “you are a f..kwit” at a Syrian woman addressing the No Room for Racism group.
In Sydney, police arrested two people as up to 1000 packed parts of Martin Place, with police lines again separating the demonstrations. About 300 anti-racist demonstrators clashed with police along Macquarie Street from Martin Place, knocking batons from police belts before officers forced them back after an attempt to breach the police line.
200 meters down Martin Place about 100 anti-islam demonstrators listened to speeches while surrounded by police.
A 36-year-old man was arrested for allegedly damaging a war memorial while a 16-year-old boy was issued a “move on” direction for allegedly breaching the peace.
For a more detailed description of events in different cities check out: