A small number of neo-Nazis tried but failed to stop the Merri-Bek City Council’s Day of Mourning ceremony on January 26 from going ahead in Coburg.
Just as the ceremony was starting, the fascists marched in holding banners with Nazi insignia and Australian flags. They chanted and did a series of Hitler salutes.
We immediately started chanting: “Always was, Always will be, Aboriginal land.”
For several years, the City of Merri-bek has held a Day of Mourning ceremony on January 26 to acknowledge that January 26, 1788 represented the beginning of the invasion, dispossession and genocide of First Nations peoples.
A number of Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung clans in the local area did not survive after they were excluded from their hunting grounds, forcing them into starvation.
This makes January 26 a painful day for most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It was first marked as the Day of Mourning in 1938.
Uncle Andrew Gardiner gave the Welcome to Country and spoke about the significance of the day. This was the first Day of Mourning ceremony since Merri-bek Council decided to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26.
It is significant that more local councils and mainstream organisations have ceased celebrating Australia Day and recognise January 26 as a Day of Mourning.
The neo-Nazis with their symbols, banners and Hitler salutes, looked pathetic because the tide of public opinion has overtaken them.
This was not the first time that Nazis have targeted the Merri-bek Council: they invaded Moreland Council (Merri-bek’s former name) meetings twice in 2017.
A majority of people younger than 35 regard January 26 as Invasion Day. They know that the Australian nation was founded on the racist dispossession of First Nations people and they want to see Treaty, sovereignty and justice for First Nations peoples.
The Nazis are tiny in number, but they are violent and racist. Perhaps they decided to pull a stunt like this because the tide is flowing against them.
[Sue Bolton is a Socialist Alliance councillor in Merri-bek City Council.]