Anti-racists protest against United Patriots Front

June 12, 2015
Anti-racist banners at the protest.

On May 31, about 400 anti- racist protestors confronted a far-right protest of racists outside Richmond Town Hall in Melbourne.

There were about 70 far-right protesters, carrying Australian flags and wearing swastika t-shirts and green and gold. The action was called by a splinter group of Reclaim Australia that calls itself United Patriots Front (UPF).

They attempted to storm the town hall but were thwarted by the hundreds of anti-racists present.

UPF leader Shermon Burgess, a former member of Reclaim Australia, posted a video to Facebook that explained the group would "protest against the left wing extremists that hate our Anzacs, hate the Australian flag and hate our way of life".

Counter-protesters began gathering at the town hall from noon, chanting "no Nazis, never again".

Soon after, Burgess and his supporters arrived at nearby Citizens Park. They launched into rambling, incoherent speeches that railed against the assembled "left-wing traitors", halal certification and the Islamic terror threat. They said they were rallying to protect Australia from Sharia law and to reclaim the country from communism.

Burgess said they had chosen Richmond Town Hall as a symbolic target in a bid to "bring down" socialist councillor Stephen Jolly.

Dozens of police, including mounted police, were present to keep the two groups apart, but a small number of fascists broke through the police lines and tried to attack the anti-racists. But they were heavily outnumbered, and soon retreated behind the police.

Any further attempts at speeches were drowned out as hundreds of counter-protesters held strong, chanting "fuck off Nazi scum" and "you'll always lose in Melbourne".

After about an hour the racists left the area under police guard when it began to rain.

Jerome Small from Campaign Against Racism and Fascism told The Age the group plans another counter-rally on July 18, when UPF have planned a rally against Islam and Sharia law.

"Today was a fantastic demonstration of ordinary people in Melbourne coming out to say these Nazis are not going to spread their filth around the streets of Melbourne," he said.

"They didn't achieve their aim today, we're not going to let them achieve their aims in the future."

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