Melbourne suburb braces for rally clashes

Luke Costin

Hundreds of far-left and far-right protesters are expected to clash in Melbourne's north this weekend, disrupting residents and traders.

Police are dropping 3000 leaflets to households and businesses around Coburg's Sydney Rd shopping area in anticipation of trouble at two Saturday morning protests.

Those attending will be subject to "stringent weapons searches", police say.

"Everyone has a right to protest and to be heard. But what we won't tolerate is anti-social behaviours, crimes and violent behaviour," Commander Sharon Cowden told reporters on Thursday.

"People who come to protest peacefully don't need to bring weapons."

One rally, Moreland says NO to Racism, is protesting against off-shore detention centres, closure of Aboriginal communities and Islamophobia.

Sue Bolton, a local Socialist Alliance councillor and the rally's organiser, said she had been pressured by authorities to cancel the protest.

"The best way of guaranteeing that the Moreland says NO to Racism rally remains peaceful is if people don't succumb to the scare campaign but turn out in large numbers," she told supporters on Facebook.

Organisers of a counter-protest say they are trying to save the community from the rally's "socialist agenda".

"Put simply, it is the far left, socialists and their supporters that are creating conflict and division in our society," True Blue Crew said in a Facebook post.

A combined 500 people say they are attending, according to the two protests' respective Facebook pages.

Another 600 have registered their interest.