Australian police break up rival protests between anti-Islam and anti-racism in Melbourne

May 28, 2016 5:00 pm

Police use pepper spray against anti-Islam protesters in , , May 28, 2016.

Australian police intervene to defuse clashes between anti-Islam and anti-racism protesters in Melbourne, using pepper spray and making several arrests.
More than 300 had partaken in the Saturday protests on Bell Street in the city’s Coburg suburb.
On one side were demonstrators representing the True Blue Crew and the United Patriots Front (UPF) activism groups, which oppose, what they call “Islamization” of Australia, refugees, and the left wing, while the other side comprised protesters for a No To Racism rally, which included members from the Anti-Fascist Action.

A member of Australian activism group Anti-Fascist Action holds up a placard during a protest in Melbourne on May 28, 2016.

The UPF protesters, some of whom were donned in Australian flags, were holding a sign that read, “No refugees. Our home, our future.”
Seven people were arrested for riotous behavior, attacking the police, and carrying prohibited weapons. Despite being separated, either side rallied again and tried to force its way through police lines.
Following the standoff, UPF leader Blair Cottrell rejoiced, saying that the anti-racism demonstrators had been “smashed.”
Describing the melee, Police Commander for Victoria Sharon Cowden said, “We saw inappropriate and often cowardly behavior with people wearing masks and hiding their identity.” “People hide their identity and I believe it makes them more violent when they are on the streets.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged that Canberra was not “entirely” blameless in containing racism throughout the nation, which opposition leader Bill Shorten has described as an epidemic. The premier, however, said, “I have to say we are the most successful multicultural in the world.”
Earlier in the month, Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton sparked angry reactions after warning about the inrush into the country of “illiterate” and “innumerate” refugees. “For many people, they won’t be numerate or literate in their own language let alone English, and this is a difficulty,” he said, adding such refugees would be either hogging local jobs or staying unemployed and on welfare.
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