Incitement case of refugee activist returns to court

Chris Breen addresses protestors outside the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

About 20 people protested outside the Melbourne Magistrates Court on March 17 when the incitement case against Refugee Action Collective (RAC) member Chris Breen returned to court.

Breen was charged with incitement for creating a Facebook post urging people to join a car cavalcade last April. The cars drove past the Mantra Hotel where 60 refugees were imprisoned as a display of solidarity.

Thirty participants were fined $1652 each. Breen was arrested before he even left home and was imprisoned in a police station for nine hours.

Breen told the crowd that if he was to be found guilty, “it will have a chilling effect” on  our right to protest”.

RAC member David Glanz said unionists could be charged with incitement for organising a picket line.

Angelica Panopoulos, a Greens councillor in the Moreland City Council who was fined, said that the car convoy did not risk spreading COVID-19. By contrast, the refugees detained in the Mantra Hotel were at risk from the virus.

She said the convoy was an act of compassion to show the refugees that they were not forgotten.

Pier Moro, an Australian Services Union delegate, said that the incitement law is meant to stifle the ability to protest, and that it could be used against unions.

RAC member Kerry Phillips said those who can have an obligation to protest injustice.

The judge is expected to make a decision on March 29.