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Victoria Police keep rivals protest groups apart at St Kilda beach

Victoria Police keep rivals protest groups apart at St Kilda beach
January 6, 2019

A rally by far-right and anti-immigration at Melbourne's St Kilda beach on Saturday has been largely contained by Victoria Police.

Scores of Police, including some with riot shields and on horseback, were on hand to those attending the rally and counter-protestors apart keep the groups. Victoria Police also deployed a boat while two Police helicopters circled overhead.

Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson, the organisers of the far-right rally, said they had called it in order to “discuss” Melbourne’s youth crime and alleged African gang problems.

“Our country is under attack,” Cottrell said over a megaphone. “Africans are 77 times more likely to commit home invasion. That’s not racism, that’s a fact!”

Some rightwing protesters wore Australian and Eureka flags as capes around their necks and chanted “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi”, and “rise without fear.” Others raised Nazi salutes.

Counter-protesters shouted “nazi scum not welcome here”.

Later the two protest groups and police lines left the foreshore area and spilled out onto the road and walked towards the Luna Park.

In one heated confrontation a rightwing protester broke through Police lines and tried to grab a banner from three anti-racism campaigners.

Police sprayed capsicum spray and used rubber pellets before arresting the rightwing protester.

Victoria Police Superintendent Tony Silva said there had been three arrests, including one for breach of bail. He said a number of others had been briefly detained and then released, adding that he hoped the public felt reassured police had the situation under control.

Cottrell and Erikson were convicted and fined by magistrates in 2017 for inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims by making a video in which they beheaded a dummy with a toy sword in a protest against the building of the Bendigo mosque. Cottrell has appealed the conviction.

The pair claim their rally was a response to recent incidents in which youths have mugged people in the Port Phillip Bay area.

Erikson also last week confronted a group of young men of African background who were playing football at St Kilda, prompting Police intervention.

Image: Nazi salutes raise at yesterday's rally. Courtesy: Twitter/Jim Pembroke @Jim_Pembroke

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