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Nazi protest rocks Aussie city

A banner they held read
A banner they held read "Australia for the white man". Photo: Twitter

A neo-Nazi march through a Victorian city has sparked outrage as police investigate whether any laws were broken.

Ballarat locals were left shocked when dozens of masked men dressed in black from the National Socialist Network paraded down Sturt Street in the city’s centre on Sunday afternoon.

Led by a single unmasked man and another holding a megaphone, the group were heard shouting “Australia for the white man” while they marched down the middle of the road.

Police were caught off-guard by the unplanned protest. Photo: Twitter
Police were caught off-guard by the unplanned protest. Photo: Twitter
A banner they held read "Australia for the white man". Photo: Twitter
A banner they held read "Australia for the white man". Photo: Twitter

“Heil victory,” they were also heard chanting.

The group were also heard singing Rule Britannia as they marched and were seen taking photos at Ballarat’s Eureka memorial.

Victoria Police have confirmed they attended the unplanned demonstration at 12:30pm.

“There were no major incidents of note during the demonstration. However, as a matter of course, police will review any vision or CCTV from the day,” a spokesperson said.

“Our top priority was keeping the peace to ensure the event did not impact the safety of the broader community.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe in our community regardless of who they are.

“We understand incidents of anti-Semitism can leave communities feeling targeted, threatened and vulnerable. Hate and prejudice has no place in our society.”

Ballarat Community Alliance said they were aware of the protests and had demanded a swift response from police, adding that “neo-Nazis are not welcome”.

Dressed in all-black, the group was led by a single unmasked man and another member who held a megaphone. Photo: Twitter
Dressed in all-black, the group was led by a single unmasked man and another member who held a megaphone. Photo: Twitter

“We condemn this group of blow-ins and their message of hate,” the group said in a statement.

“They have come to Ballarat to co-opt the Eureka legacy on the inclusive and peaceful commemoration of the anniversary of Eureka Stockade.

“We are a proud multicultural city and at the recent referendum were one of the biggest yes votes in regional Australia. We are a safe and inclusive city and we unequivocally condemn their presence in this city.”

The group questioned why police did not enforce new laws that prohibit the performance or display of Nazi symbols and gestures.

“Why weren’t these laws enforced by police who instead helped the neo-Nazis by making safe passage through the street for their protest?” they wrote on social media.

The group were seen posing and taking photos in front of the Ballarat Police Station. Photo: Twitter
The group were seen posing and taking photos in front of the Ballarat Police Station. Photo: Twitter
After marching down the main street they moved onto Sovereign Hill, a popular tourist spot in the area with a focus on Australian history. Photo: Twitter
After marching down the main street they moved onto Sovereign Hill, a popular tourist spot in the area with a focus on Australian history. Photo: Twitter

A man who witnessed the event said that the rally sparked disbeliefs in bystanders and said that the event was likely timed to coincide with the Spilt Milk music festival held the day before.

The group were also spotted walking along rural roads at the back of Sovereign Hill, trailed by a police car with lights on.

A bank of cars was seen behind as the group took up the entire lane of traffic.

Many questioned why police did not step in when they took to the streets,

“So they disrupt traffic & don’t get arrested? Climate protesters would be in jail almost immediately!” one person wrote on social media.

It’s not the first time the area has been the target for neo-Nazi protests, with residents saying they felt in danger after a group of men descended on the town of Halls Gap, 150km northwest of Ballarat, on Australia Day in 2021.

A neo-Nazi group outside the town of Halls Gap on Australia Day weekend 2021
A neo-Nazi group outside the town of Halls Gap on Australia Day weekend 2021

Pictures of the gathering showed shirtless men wearing balaclavas burning a cross.

The protest was likely connected to the anniversary of the Eureka Stockade, where gold miners battled with police and the military over land rights and policing of their work.

“They swore to fight together against police and military. After the oath, they built a stockade at Eureka, and waited for the main attack,” the State Library of Victoria says about the rebellion.

“On 3 December, there was an all-out clash between the miners and the police, supported by the military. The miners planned their defence and attack carefully, but they were no match for the well-armed force they faced.

“When the battle was over, 125 miners were taken prisoner and many were badly wounded. Six of the police and troopers were killed and there were at least 22 deaths among the diggers.”

The Eureka flag is largely seen as having been co-opted by neo-Nazi groups in Australia as a symbol of rebellion against the government.

Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission Dvir Abramovic said that today’s event was an example of “white supremacists trying to sow fear and intimidation”.

“This beyond despicable display of depravity belongs in Germany of the 1930s, not in our state,” he said.

“Such hate-filled behaviour is a spit on the memory of the victims and the diggers who gave their lives to defeat the Third Reich.”