One candidate running for re-election in the Melbourne’s inner north in the October 22 council elections has had many of her corflutes defaced.
Sue Bolton, a long-term socialist activist, has been the target of racists since she persisted with organising an anti-racist rally in Coburg in late May.
The “Moreland says No to racism” rally was supported by 60 organisations and, despite provocations, was a peaceful family affair thanks to the determination of the community not to be deterred from making their statement and Bolton’s resolve to support them.
Just weeks before the rally, Bolton found out that the openly pro-Nazi United Patriots Front (UPF) was preparing a counter rally.
She came under heavy pressure from the police, and some councillors and local traders, to call it off on the basis that it would encourage violence.
Bolton refused point blank saying at the time: “Calling off the rally would have given a green light to the UPF to shut down whatever rally or public discussion it wanted.”
She said the rally, which was focused around ending the forced closure of Aboriginal communities, allowing refugees in and closing the camps as well as rejecting Islamophobia, had united and strengthened disparate communities in her area.
Bolton received wide praise for standing up to the far right. Many could see the pressure she had to endure for taking such a stand. Some of these same people are very active in her campaign, including proudly erecting her colourful corflutes in their front yards.
This seems to be have triggered a new round of racist action where Bolton’s corflutes, particularly near the Coburg Shopping Centre, and even some in people’s front yards, are being defaced.
Bolton told Green Left Weekly that she didn’t know exactly who was doing it, but she suspects it is down to a handful of racists who do not want her re-elected.
“They blame me for the pro-Nazi group’s efforts to disrupt our peaceful rally”, she said. “But by blaming me, and those who took part in the anti-racism rally, the traders are implicitly encouraging the pro-Nazi group.
“I suspect those behind this campaign against me would be the same sorts of people who assert the right to use racist and sexist language in the name of ‘free speech’.
“Here they are denying me free speech, and they don’t even have the courage to reveal who they are.”
Bolton has received tremendous support from the area for her work on council and brave stands. Many have posted their support on social media, including this from one person: “She is there for the people and community and Sue has a heart for the people and she doesn’t just sit there to be looking pretty like some of the others. She has a heart for the people and she acts on what she says.”
Another said: “It's almost not surprising that this is happening to your posters Sue ... it’s obviously because you are a dedicated, effective, passionate and caring human being and councillor. Vandalism may destroy your posters but it will never destroy you. Stay strong.”
And another said: “Keep fighting Sue. Don't ever let them silence you. We need more people like you in Australia. No room for racism.”