Frightening moment angry mob of ‘Invasion Day’ protesters attack a man draped in an Australian flag – before police form a human shield to protect him
- Thousands of Indigenous Australian sympathisers were greeted by far-right counter-protesters in Melbourne
- At least 5,000 people marched in the city centre in favour of banning celebrating of Australia Day
- A small group of around 100 counter-protesters were waiting for them at Federation Square
- A counter-protester wearing an Australian flag around his shoulders appeared to be set upon by a mob
An angry mob of protesters calling for Australia Day to be abolished appeared to attack a flag-wearing nationalist during ugly clashes in Melbourne on Saturday.
The city was fraught as 5,000 indigenous people and their supporters confronted around 100 alt-right nationalists holding a counter demonstration.
As tensions came to a head, a protester wearing an Australian flag around his shoulders appeared to be set upon.
Footage from the demonstration appeared to show him being dragged across the concrete by several ‘Invasion Day’ protesters.
The man, believed to be part of anti-Islam group The United Patriots Front, was then escorted away from the group by police officers.
Crowd of 5,000 demonstrators: Invasion Day protesters gather at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne on Australia Day 2019
Clash: Protesters and counter-protesters have clashed during an ‘Invasion Day’ rally in Melbourne on Australia Day
Melbourne: Australian Aborigines and their supporters stage a protest against Australia Day on Saturday afternoon
Police were quick to pounce when a small group of opposing protesters clashed in Melbourne on Saturday
He told 7 News Melbourne: ‘They got triggered and upset that I was standing on Australian Day holding my flag.’
Earlier in the day, protesters draped in Aboriginal flags began what was billed as a ‘peaceful protest’ by pushing their way through a police line at the head of Bourke Street.
From there, they marched towards the Yarra River, chanting: ‘Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.’
They say it is wrong to celebrate Australia Day on the day the British settlers arrived at land inhabited by indigenous people and want the date changed.
A counter-protest mustered fewer than 100 participants who were shrouded in Australian flags at the steps of Federation Square.
One man was holding a placard reading: ‘To defend my country was once called patriotism now it’s called racism.’
That same slogan was read at a rally designed to protest African gang crime at St Kilda beach only weeks earlier.
At the foot of Federation Square, a pair of protesters clad in the Australian flag clashed with those marching from the northern end of the city, before they were pounced on by the throngs of police.
One of the men was dragged to the ground before being frog-marched off by police, another couple also told to move on by police shortly after.
The event started with a minute’s silence and speeches rallying against Aboriginal deaths in custody, the abolition of public drunkenness laws, calling for an end to children being taken from family care and a spate of aboriginal child suicides.
Melbourne: A group of about 5,000 people were actively marching through the street in favour of changing the date of Australia Day
Melbourne: One banner at the protest read ‘Australia is a crime scene’ and another said: ‘Respect existence or expect resistance’
Melbourne: Thousands marched with a banner reading ‘change the date or we still won’t celebrate’
Australia Day has become a contentious issue as some believe the day enforces a false narrative.
The day is held in honour of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships.
However, there is a growing number of Australians who believe the day has become a symbol of inequality and institutionalised harm.
Protests advocating for changing the date of Australia Day from January 26 have become established in all Australian cities, with growing support for them each year.