Melbourne was turned into a war zone as anti-Islam and pro-Islam protesters fought running battles with police, shutting down one of Melbourne’s busiest streets. More than 450 police officers were needed to keep the peace as violent Muslim-sympathizers tried to shut down a peaceful march against the out-of-control Muslim invasion of Australia.
NEWS.AU (h/t Jenny V) Police estimate about 500 protesters took to the streets in a day of mayhem, criticising a small group of hardcore protesters intent on causing trouble. Officers made just five arrests, three for riotous behaviour and one person for punching a police horse.
Women, young children, and the elderly were forced to run for cover as right wing sympathizers from Reclaim Australia clashed with masked and hooded Socialist anarchists. Despite the best efforts of police to separate the two warring factions, sporadic fighting broke out over three hours after right wing protesters infiltrated the rival No Room for Racism protest.
Chanting “No room for racism” and “racist scum out”, the larger anti-racism rally said it was intent on preventing anti-Islam protesters from taking over their city, saying racists were not welcome in Melbourne.
Both groups tried to drown each other out as they hurled insults across police battle lines. With both groups spoiling for a fight, it wasn’t long before fighting erupted in the powderkey environment.
A handful of Reclaim Australia protesters found themselves hemmed in next to the Princess Theatre, and were forced to withstand a flurry of punches. Order was restored after police pushed back the warring combatants with a blanket of capsicum spray.
As more running battles took hold, police charged on horseback in a last-ditch effort to maintain order. Several people required treatment from the effects of capsicum spray, including a male protester in his 50s who went into cardiac arrest. He was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Little Bourke St was transformed into a temporary triage centre as scores of injured protesters lay stricken on the ground receiving treatment. The street was littered with empty water and milk bottles used to douse the effects of the spray.
Two anti-Islam supporters found themselves under attack after they were chased up Spring St by a baying mob, before being viciously assaulted at a tram stop. One man was seen stamping on another man’s head as he was knocked to the ground.
Events started to sour at the start of a rally by anti-Islam group Reclaim Australia when hundreds of anti-racism demonstrators attending the earlier Rally Against Racism protest in Bourke St marched into Spring St. The Reclaim Australia protest was later boosted by the arrival of about 60 people from splinter group the Patriot Defence League, including many from interstate.
Calm was eventually restored by early afternoon, with Victoria Police maintaining a running presence into the night. Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane criticised a small group of hard core left wing protesters intent on causing trouble. “The message of the day for either side has been lost,” he said. “They need to sit back and think about that, social media has been dominated by violence against our police members.
“We had a small group of hard line protesters on either side who intended to come to these demonstrations and rallies and use violence.” Commissioner Leane said police officers only used capsicum spray when they were in “significant threat” of having their lines overrun.
Socialist Yarra councillor and rally organiser Stephen Jolly said he was delighted with the strong turnout, claiming his side outnumbered the right wing by about 10-1. “The idea that we were going to let these guys come into Melbourne and spread their hate was never going to happen,” Cr Jolly said.
“The only violence that occurred took place when some of their people walked through our line and started acting provocatively. “We didn’t want a fistfight with them, we just wanted to clear them off our streets. “I reckon they will be going home feeling pretty demoralised tonight.”
Vietnam veteran and head of Restore Australia, Mike Holt, earlier told the crowd Islam was a “supremacist ideology” and there was no room for it in Melbourne. “There’s only one thing we can do and that’s ban Islam because it just doesn’t fit with us,” Mr Holt said.
He said mosques were creating a “wedge” in society as they were being used to radicalised young Australians. “The Koran cannot be changed and that’s the problem,” Mr Holt said.