Chants of “Black, Indigenous, Arab, Asian and white—unite, unite, unite to fight the right!” echoed across the streets of Sunshine West on Saturday, when 500 anti-fascist activists and local community members gathered to protest against Legacy Boxing Gym.
The gym has become a flashpoint for anti-fascist opposition since the Age revealed last year that it is an organising base for a neo-Nazi organisation called the National Socialist Network (NSN). The group is one of the most reactionary of Australia’s far-right: a Hitler-worshipping, anti-Semitic white supremacist outfit, the confidence and visibility of which has grown in the wake of the right-wing anti-vax movement.
In less than a year, the NSN has disrupted community events for queer youth and a mourning ceremony on Invasion Day, performed the Sieg Heil salute on the steps of Victoria’s parliament to support the far-right transphobic activist Posie Parker, and organised several racist protests—including a demonstration, in the wake of federal Liberal leader Peter Dutton’s post-budget remarks, blaming immigration for the housing crisis.
Saturday’s protest followed a recent attempt by NSN members to disrupt an anti-fascist fundraiser for the White Rose Society and the Black People’s Union at Cafe Gummo, a left-wing gathering place in Thornbury. Though they intended to intimidate, the handful of Nazis instead were forced to flee up High Street.
A subsequent speakout called by the Campaign against Racism and Fascism in response to the Nazi mobilisation grew into a 100-strong demonstration of solidarity with the anti-fascist groups and built momentum for Saturday’s protest.
Speakers at the Sunshine rally spoke about Melbourne’s history of anti-fascist resistance, the connections between the political establishment and the far right, and the need for ongoing grassroots opposition to neo-Nazi organising. Speakers included Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick and Victorian Socialists member Liz Walsh.
“There can be no safe space for Nazis”, Walsh said. “Not in the western suburbs, not in the northern suburbs, not in the east or the south. Nowhere can the Nazis be allowed any space to organise and grow. We must be committed to hounding them wherever they go.”
While antifascists took a stand against the Nazis on their own turf in Sunshine, a number of the latter joined the Vote No protests held at the same time in the city, where they unfurled a banner reading: “Voice = anti-white”.
This highlights the need to build an ongoing anti-racist and anti-fascist movement capable of kicking the Nazis out of Sunshine and of challenging the broader racism of the “mainstream” conservative right, which gives oxygen to their reactionary politics.
Human Rights Watch, an international investigative and reporting organisation, says that it has “significant human rights concerns” about Australia’s treatment of refugees and Aboriginal people.
To drive a whole people out of their land—to turn it into something akin to the Zionist myth of Palestine, supposedly “a land without a people for a people without a land”—requires many things. Most obviously, it requires the killing and terrorising of Palestinian people on a colossal scale.
What would you do with $1.5 million? You could put down deposits on ten median-priced Sydney houses, or you could buy one outright and spare yourself the crushing mortgage repayments.
The level of suffering in Gaza is more than the human mind can comprehend. As the war enters its twentieth week, it feels increasingly obscene to be going about daily life while an entire people are being systematically destroyed, their lives, histories and culture blown to pieces or buried under rubble.
The Banyule Palestine Action Group has collected more than 600 signatures on a petition calling on Banyule City Council, in Melbourne’s north-east, to pass a motion supporting an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, in line with motions passed in other councils across Australia.
Asked how she stays hopeful as a 63-year-old socialist and Palestinian living in the diaspora, Reem Yunis replies: “I don’t have the luxury not to be inspired. My grandparents died without seeing a liberated Palestine, my parents died and were buried in the diaspora. Most of my people are living in the diaspora, and the ones in Palestine are being robbed of water, resources and every bit of land they have. We need to have hope and fight, because if we won’t fight for a free Palestine, who will?”