A neo-Nazi march through a Victorian city has sparked outrage with the actions of police being questioned.
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’, which also adorned the white banner they carried, while they marched down the middle of the road.
‘Heil victory,’ they were also heard chanting.
A neo-Nazi group has brazenly marched through the centre of the Victorian city of Ballarat
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’.
The neo-Nazi marchers were also seen being escorted by police along the back roads near the popular tourist attractions of Sovereign Hill
‘We condemn this group of blow-ins and their message of hate,’ the group said.
‘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.
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.
The neo-Nazi group were also seen posing and taking photos in front of the Ballarat Police Station
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 and 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.
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.
In October Victoria banned the Nazi salute, with the law also covering anything closely resembling a Nazi gesture or symbol.
This happened only days after Daily Mail Australia recorded unsettling images of a young man performing a Nazi salute and yelling ‘Heil Hitler’ have emerged amid footage of a large Nazi protest in Melbourne.
Daily Mail Australia on Saturday revealed video footage of a group of masked men and woman throwing banned Nazi salutes and carrying a banner reading ‘Expose Jewish Power’ at Flinders Street train station.
In October a group of men , identifying themselves as from the National Socialist Network, stormed through a central Melbourne rail station before boarding a suburban train.
Once onboard they terrified passengers on board by taunting them and singing white supremacist songs.
Victoria Police have been contacted for comment.