“Fascists like things to run smoothly, they like their trains to run on time. Well, tonight, we made sure that things did not run smoothly for them.”
– A Melbourne anti-fascist activist last night.
Far right activist Lauren Southern did not expect to host the Melbourne leg of her Australian speaking tour in a reception venue on the Hume Highway more than 30 kilometres from the CBD.
It’s a testament to the chutzpah of the anti-fascist movement in Melbourne that Southern’s promoters, to prevent the event from being disrupted, held it in the most isolated venue they could find.
Southern has links to European movements such as Génération Identitaire (GI – a far right group too extreme even for Marine Le Pen’s fascist National Front). She once set sail with GI into the Mediterranean Sea to prevent NGO boats rescuing migrants fleeing from North Africa.
But for all the “bravado” she and other white nationalists and fascists display on the internet, this was a sad display.
Southern’s team did not advertise the speaking venue, instructing patrons – who paid up to $750 to hear their fascist heroine speak – to board chartered buses from Broadmeadows train station. From there, they were chaperoned to Somerton, in Melbourne’s outer north-west.
Yet disrupt we did. Two hundred anti-fascists turned out on a Friday evening to make a loud counter-argument to white nationalism.
Activists organised in groups such as the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism greeted the racists as they boarded the buses. And we were there at the Somerton venue, giving them the welcome they deserved.
At one point, activists blocked the Hume Highway and chanted “Stop the Nazi bus!” as we surrounded a bus carrying Southern’s fans, preventing it from moving any further. They had to disembark and make the rest of the journey by foot, courtesy of a police escort: riot shields, horses and all.
The anti-fascists were a diverse bunch: seasoned activists, trade unionists but also first time protesters and representatives from migrant and oppressed groups, such as Melbourne’s Muslim, Tamil and African communities. Those present drew links between the extreme ideas of Southern and the racist, anti-migrant policies of mainstream politicians and corporate media.
Two young activists, Wol and Titan, who are organising a protest against Channel 7's racist fabrication of so-called African gangs, spoke pointedly on the anti-Sudanese racism in vogue among the media, politicians and police at the moment.
It was a good night for anti-fascists in Melbourne.