Anti-racist protest dwarfs fascist rally in Melbourne

The chant “You’ll always lose in Melbourne!” echoed in the streets of Melbourne on 17 September as another pick and mix of assorted fascists, Nazis and white supremacists was vastly outnumbered by a loud counter-rally.

Between 400 and 500 anti-fascist protesters gathered at the State Library for speeches and chants. Indigenous activists, speakers from the Rohingya community, Jews Against Fascism and longstanding anti-fascist activists spoke about the need for an active and defiant anti-fascist and anti-racist campaign.

The protest, organised by the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, spent weeks encouraging organisations and individuals to join a united march through the streets of Melbourne to outnumber the far right. We succeeded.

Protesters marched to the far right rallying point at Parliament. We outnumbered their rally four or five to one, assembling 50 metres away, separated by police barricades. We drowned out the fascists with chants of “Black, Indigenous, Arab, Asian and white – Unite! Unite! Unite to fight the right!” and “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal Land!”

The far right rally, “Make Victoria Safe Again”, was organised by the increasingly notorious right wing Zionist and gym owner Avi Yemini. Yemeni was attempting to bring together a broad far right audience using the tried and true politics of racist dog whistling directed at the myth of African and other immigrant crime gangs. In the end, the right wing rally was dominated by existing neo-Nazi and fascist groups, including the Soldiers of Odin, the United Patriots Front and the True Blue Crew.

By counter-rallying, anti-fascists have again blunted one of the most important tools the fascists have. Street rallies are a key method for the far right to meet new recruits and build their confidence. Persistent counter-rallies, ever since the far right started serious attempts at street mobilisations with “Reclaim Australia” in 2015, have been crucial in reducing the far right’s street presence to a tiny rump of already organised fascists.