On 17 December, the Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women and the Indigenous Social Justice Association of Melbourne all mobilised to support the “Black Lives Matter: No Racism, No Far-right, No Police Violence in Flemington” rally held in Debneys Park in the Melbourne inner suburb of Flemington.
The rally was a direct response to the extreme police brutality and violence perpetrated against residents of Flemington Estate after Milo Yiannopoulos, a U.S.-based far-right celebrity with Nazi links, spoke in the suburb on 4 December. The police used capsicum spray and hurled racist abuse against the multicultural residents of the tower blocks. The show of unity for the Flemington community was impressive with support from Aboriginal activists, the local community legal centre, the Islamic Council of Victoria, public housing advocates, the local member of parliament from the Greens, and unionists from the Australian Education Union. There was a particularly strong presence from anti-fascist activists.
Victoria Police continues to engage in partisan policing, facilitating fascists marching. This same force also engages in systematic racial profiling with youth from African backgrounds and Indigenous people both being targets for harassment.
The rally called for the Victorian government to spend more on local communities and public housing, instead of pouring funds into policing and other law and order campaigns. In the last State budget, the government announced funding for 2,729 more police officers and allocated $288 million for a purpose-built supermax youth prison that will house 224 kids, the majority un-sentenced and on remand.
Another demand was a call for a public apology from Victoria Police and an investigation into the events on the night of the Milo meetings including the police response. However, more will be needed to prevent a repeat. What’s urgently required is the establishment of well-funded community bodies with powers to hold the police accountable. These boards need to be elected by and accountable to communities such as the residents of the Flemington Estate.