Chants of “No hate, no fear, Nazis are not welcome here!” rang through the streets of Sunshine on 25 February as more than 500 anti-fascists and local community members marched through the multicultural, working-class suburb in Melbourne’s west.
We were protesting against neo-Nazis who recently used a local boxing gym as an organising and training centre.
“We remember what Nazis have done—the genocide, the Holocaust, the gas chambers and the concentration camps. We remember what fascist regimes did to workers and minorities all across Europe. We remember”, Victorian Socialists member Liz Walsh said in one of the speeches.
“And look at the massacres committed by neo-Nazis in the past ten or twenty years. Think about Anders Breivik, who in 2011 massacred 69 left-wing youth at a summer camp in Norway. Think about Dylan Roof in the US, who massacred eight African American people as they worshipped at their church. And we remember that Australian fucker, Brenton Tarrant, who massacred Muslim people in Christchurch, New Zealand.”
Thomas Sewell, a Melbourne neo-Nazi thug, previously attempted to recruit Tarrant to the organised movement in Australia.
“We say Thomas Sewell is not welcome in Sunshine!”, Walsh concluded.
Fascist groups have been organising more brazenly and confidently in the wake of the anti-vax protest movement, in which many were participants. Neo-Nazis have targeted LGBT+ events, crashed a mourning ceremony on Invasion Day and engaged in other public displays around Melbourne.
The protest was jointly called by the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism and Victorian Socialists. As it marched, more and more locals joined the protest when they heard the anti-racist chants.
Prior to the rally, Nazi stickers were put up in the area, but only one fascist was spotted on the day. He was swiftly shouted down by the crowd.
“It moves me very much, to be among hundreds of people today in the suburb of Sunshine, fighting to eject a Nazi training gym from our neighbourhood” Jorge Jorquera, a Victorian Socialists councillor in Maribyrnong, said in another speech.
“Fifty years ago, the Allende government in Chile was ousted by a military coup. Pinochet’s fascistic regime proceeded to kill and torture thousands of Chilean workers. Hundreds of thousands of us were forced into exile. And here we are, 50 years on, proudly standing in the tradition of those who resisted Pinochet by fighting fascists and the far right in this country!”
Locals peered from footpaths, car parks and balconies as refugee activists denounced Australia’s brutal asylum seeker policies.
“We have to protest the government, too. We have to protest until all refugees have a place here to stay”, Kirithik Ramachandran, from the Young Refugees Collective, told the crowd. “Australia depends on the work of refugees. Without us, this country can’t run! We want permanent visas now!”
The protest was a success, and a moral victory for anti-fascists. We need to build on this to create a vibrant anti-racist movement that keeps the Nazis in their basements and challenges the system that bolsters their bigotry.