MELBOURNE — More than 150 people loudly protested outside the Frankston meeting of the One Nation party on August 6.
The protesters represented a cross-section of the community and outnumbered the mainly older, mainly male One Nation supporters by about four to one. A large contingent of police was also present.
While the rally — organised by Campaign Against Racism — was peaceful but vocal, several anti-racists who went inside the meeting were assaulted before being ejected. Although the media filmed this event, it was not covered in any news program.
One of those assaulted was later arrested for allegedly assaulting a security guard.
A Frankston woman who entered the meeting described the organised violence by One Nation supporters. She asked that her name be withheld because she had already received threatening calls. However, she is willing to speak up if the police are prepared to take action against the One Nation supporters and bodyguards who committed the violence.
"Anyone who voiced any disagreement was told to sit down, and if they didn't, they were forcibly ejected. But anyone who made racist remarks about Aborigines, Asians and 'boat people' was cheered by the crowd", said the eyewitness.
About 20 minutes into the meeting, a man walked towards the stage, did a mock fascist salute and shouted "Sieg Heil!". Four of his friends — three men and one woman — stood up where they were sitting and did the same.
Immediately, about eight or 10 bodyguards grabbed the five and put them in headlocks and kicked the back of their knees, forcing them down.
"The girl was punched several times and struck across the face with what looked like a short leather whip. All were then violently ejected from the hall", the eyewitness added.
"Later, another guy in the audience stood up and tried to explain why he disagreed with One Nation. He too was violently ejected."
CAR spokesperson Bridget Riggs condemned the racist violence, the police response and the mainstream media blackout.
"At the Dandenong rally an isolated incident was blown completely out of proportion, and anti-racists were portrayed as the people behind the violence. Yet here we have a situation of organised violence by One Nation, with the support of the police, and there is not a single mention of it."
A CAR public meeting on August 13 on the topic "Building the movement against Hanson and Howard" will feature Jim Cairns (veteran peace activist and a former Labor deputy prime minister) and George Lekakis (Ethnic Communities Council). For more information, phone (03) 9329 1277.