Some background to the letter.
On Monday 4th December, 2017, visiting 'alt-right provocateur' Milo Yiannopoulos held a public event at the Melbourne Pavilion on Racecourse Road in Kensington. Just across the road from the Flemington high rise estates.
Whatever you think of Milo himself, his rhetoric is attractive to racist, Islamophobic, and anti-immigration groups and individuals. Some attendees of the event may have come to see for themselves or because they support his 'controversial' and flamboyant speeches but the event on Monday 4th of December also attracted white-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups who have been growing in strength and boldness for some time now. Groups like the Soldiers of Odin Australia, a branch of the Finnish neo-nazi group, The 'True Blue Crew' a white-nationalist street-gang known for their violence and the United Patriots Front (UPF), a white nationalist group that broke away from 'Reclaim Australia' several years ago. Present were Blair Cottrel and Niel Erikson, who were recently convicted for racial vilification under Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act.
The Milo Yiannopoulos event also attracted protesters from a range of groups. The Campaign Against Racism and Fascism was one. Word began to spread on social media and online neighborhood groups that nazi's were in town. Local residents from Kensington and Flemington began to come down to join the protest. Hundred of people from the large public housing estates came down and joined in. The bravery of people present, who chose to stand up against this hatred, was extraordinary.
The white-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups and individuals rallied in the centre of Racecourse Road and Stubbs Street intersection, surrounded by police. They yelled abuse and vitriol at local residents for several hours. Staff from the local community legal centre witnessed abuse such as 'Mohammad is a pedo' being chanted over and over again from a megaphone. They yelled out the names of concentration camps toward members of the Jews Against Fascism group who were present.
Reports of other forms of harassment begin to come in. A young Flemington resident was told to 'go back to Africa' by an attendee of the Milo event on a tram. A hijab was ripped off a woman in Racecourse Road. There were physical assaults in the surrounding streets by members of the hate groups above. Throughout the evening of Monday 4th December, the streets and parks of Flemington and Kensington became unsafe for many of our community. This is not acceptable.
The letter has been put together by local community members and service organisations.
It is a clear public statement against the hate and violence that occurred on Monday night during the Milo Yiannopoulos event at the Melbourne Pavilion.
The letter is designed to allow local community members, representatives, businesses, organisations and community leaders to show a united voice in condemning the hate and abuse directed at particularly housing estate residents on the night.
It is based upon similar initiatives called 'Not in My Town' in the United States where communities take a united stand against neo-nazi or white supremacist groups visiting or organising in their towns.
We hope you will join us in standing up to hate, bigotry and racism and supporting community members most affected by it.
photographs above and below provided by Charandev Singh (Monday 4th December 2017)