There was loud and decisive rejection of the anti-Islamic message of a small group gathered in Melbourne’s Federation Square under the banner of the Australian Defence League. A counter rally called by the Renegade Activists Action Force (RAAF), and supported by people from all sectors of the community, unionists, Indigenous, socialists, anarchists, non-aligned, human rights supports, and many more effectively swamped the ADL action, eventually crowding them out of the Square under police escort – according to RAAF having first appealed for a guarantee of safe conduct.
The counter rally was addressed by several speakers refuting the ADL’s claims, including Dave Kerin, Kevin Bracken, Irish Socialist Kevin McLoughlin, Indigenous activist Sharon Firebrace, Mick Armstrong of Socialist Alternative, while others kept the megaphone busy at the front line. There was a gradual move to encircle the ADL position, and bit by bit move the centre of gravity, so to speak, back towards the street. There was a certain amount of pushing and shoving, but nothing to write home about, and no arrests, although police did drag a few people apart on occasion. It was all over after about an hour and a half, although a few individuals stayed around a bit longer, absorbed into the general public passing through the Square – which was also the scene of a colourful festival celebrating the birth of the Buddha.
Video footage of the event is in preparation.* In the meantime, here are photos of participants from both sides, mostly self-explanatory:
* Added 17 May: