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(en) Australia, collective action: What happened in Melbourne yesterday?
Tue, 28 Nov 2017 07:53:18 +0200
Ricky Turner with his hands around the throat of a Manus solidarity demonstrator. Neil
Erikson to the right. ---- POSTED BY: COLLECTIVE ACTION NOVEMBER 25, 2017 ---- Yesterday's
Manus solidarity rally in Melbourne did not "turn violent", it was attacked first by a
known fascist and then by the police. ---- The racist violence of the Australian state,
directed at Indigenous peoples, Muslims, and anyone who would dare seek asylum whilst
non-white, continues to embolden far-right thugs. ---- Earlier this month, neo-Nazi
publicity hound Neil Erikson, abused a Labor senator in a bar. Last night he and two
wannabe ubermensch decided to have a go at a Manus solidarity rally organised by the
Refugee Action Collective (RAC). ---- Erikson shoved aside a RAC chairperson and seized
the mic to announce that all "refugees are rapists". He was quickly cut off when a nearby
hero stepped in, pushed him aside and reclaimed the mic.
If there was any doubt about where Erikson's politics lay... Neil Erikson and members of
Combat 18 in a bar.
The response of the police was telling. One of Erikson's goon mates grabbed our hero
around the neck to choke him. The police rushed forward and leaped on... the person being
choked. This person has since described how police shoved him to the ground, stomped on
his calves, kicked his legs and pushed his elbows into his back.
Ricky Turner with his arms around the neck of our hero, Neil Erikson to the right.
Neil Erikson and his thug friend were calmly led away, whilst police escalated violence
against demonstrators. Hundreds of demonstrators stood up and demanded the police release
the demonstrator they had pinned on the ground, chanting "let him go!"
As police marched the hero they had wrongly arrested to a divvy van, supporters stood in
front of them and continued chanting. The police response was to lash out, and a comrade
from the Melbourne Anarchist Club was hurled to the ground, sustaining a head injury.
You have doubtless seen the photos shared on Facebook and in the media. Our comrade,
surrounded by police, pinned to the ground, blood flowing from his head. Victoria Police
held the MAC comrade in this position for over thirty minutes, and after the comrade was
removed from the scene he was not taken to an ambulance or a hospital, but rather to a
Victoria Police "detaining" a comrade from the Melbourne Anarchist Club.
At a moments like this we face a choice, do we accept the right of the police to brutalize
with impunity, or do we push back?
Last night, we pushed back. Hundreds of demonstrators, joined by a number of angry
bystanders, surrounded the police, and demanded the release of our comrades. The police
responded with punches and pepper spray. They were successful in removing the
demonstrators they had assaulted and arrested, but they were not successful in their
For three weeks Victoria Police have moved to prevent Manus solidarity rallies from
undertaking the most routine of protest marches. For two weeks, police have deployed in
their hundreds to block Swanston Street and prevent a march from the State Library to
Last night, after being attacked first by fascists and then by the police, demonstrators
demanded the right to march. Chanting "we will march" hundreds of demonstrators faced off
against the police, before sidestepping police down Bourke Street and then running to the
Flinders Street intersection.
The outcome was an important demonstration of principle. After weeks of over policing,
despite the deployment of hundreds of "public order response" units, and in defiance of
police violence, demonstrators forced their way to Flinders Street, surrounded police in
the intersection, and held the sit-in that police have been so determined to prevent. This
was no symbolic sit-in, demonstrators held the Flinders Street intersection in defiance of
Victoria Police for two hours.
The ongoing campaign in solidarity with refugees detained on Manus and Nauru requires a
sustained and determined campaign of direct action and civil disobedience. We must sit-in,
blockade, demonstrate and march, and we must create a situation that the Australian
government simply cannot ignore.
This campaign has been overwhelmingly non-violent, bordering on obsessively polite. But
our tactics of occupation, blockade, sit-in and march are opposed by racist bigots and
authoritarian police. In order to both defend rights to protest and continue this
campaign, we must refuse police and opponent demands that we stop. There are occasions
where this imperative will require acts of defiance.
For further discussion read ‘The right to march MUST be defended'.
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