St Kilda Beach far-right rally draws hundreds of Melbourne police
Riot police gather in St Kilda where far-right activists are rallying. (ABC News: Jean Edwards)
Controversial independent Queensland senator Fraser Anning has attended a far-right rally in Melbourne, which has seen hundreds of police descend onto St Kilda Beach in a bid to prevent violence breaking out.
- St Kilda Beach has been the target of a police operation all summer
- Far-right activist Neil Erikson has previously been convicted of inciting violence
- Queensland senator Fraser Anning was expelled from the KAT due to his views on race
Organiser of the rally Neil Erikson, who has been convicted of inciting contempt towards Muslims, thanked Mr Anning for his attendance at the event.
Twitter Damian McIver Far right protestor Neil Erikson thanks Senator Fraser Anning for attending today’s rally in St Kilda
Mounted police have joined officers in riot gear and public response order vehicles on the beach, trying to keep the two groups apart on the St Kilda foreshore and rounding up trouble-makers when scuffles break out.
The conflict spilled onto the road when far-right demonstrators attacked a car with a loud speaker broadcasting “Sudanese are welcome, racists are not”.
Some of the organisers have called for a Cronulla-style riot, while others insist they are at the beach for a peaceful political meeting.
Mr Anning’s time in Federal Parliament has been tumultuous, with him leaving One Nation just hours before being sworn in to the Upper House after a spat with leader Pauline Hanson.
After a short stint as an independent, he joined Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) and was criticised for using the term “final solution” during his first speech on migration, which led to his expulsion from the party more than a week later.
On Facebook, Mr Anning said he was attending the rally to support the “Vietnamese community” being attacked by “African gangs”.
A video of the incident posted on social media showed young men playing soccer on the St Kilda foreshore around 5:30pm on December 28.
The group of activists, led by Mr Erikson, refused requests from the group and police to stop recording and a dispute broke out, during which police allege a 25-year-old man from the football-playing group assaulted an officer.
Extra police have been stationed in St Kilda ahead of a planned rally organised by far-right activists. (ABC News: Damian McIver)
Last week’s incident prompted Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville to warn that people inciting violence would be held to account by police and the law.
“I want people to let police get on and do their job of keeping our beaches and our streets safe, which they do a great job of,” she said.
“I would encourage all people not to attempt to incite violence and cause trouble on our beaches or our streets.”
St Kilda Beach has been the subject of an increased police presence and a local council crack-down on public drinking this summer, following a number of violent incidents on the beach.