Anti-fascist counter rally – Federation Square, Melbourne, 15 May 2011

Unite Against Racism - banner at rally

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:

ADL supporter in 'Aussie' cap and blue t-shirt

The same, police line, and counter-demonstrators assembling behind

ADL supported with xxxx windcheater

Young woman poking her tongue out - placard reads Keep Freedom in Australia Save Aussie Culture

ADL supporters and placards objecting to Halal meat sales at Coles

ADL supported draped in Eureka flag

Elderly Asian gentleman shakes ADL supporter's hand ...

ADL leader poses for photo by supporter

ADL supporter in pseudo-hijab with anti-Islamic placard

ADL supported points camera at MelbourneProtests

ADL organiser

ADL speaker

ADL supporter pulls face, possibly for photo

Anti-Islamic placard appearing at end of rally - includes caption 'God Bless Hitler'

Anti-fascist banner - consigning swastika to dustbin

Anti-fascist placards including Freedom Socialist Party

Dave Kerin speaking

Kevin Bracken speaking

Sharon Firebrace speaking

Mick Armstrong speaking

Kevin McLoughlin speaking

Anti-Abbot t-shirt

The ADl rally becomes surrounded by the counter-rally

The counter-rally closing in on the ADL

After the ADL have left the Square - Indigenous and Palestinian flags

* Added 17 May: