Members of the nationalist True Blue Crew are planning to “take a stand on the streets” in response to Melbourne’s so-called ‘African gang crisis’.
Posts on their public Facebook page say the Crew will meet Sunday afternoon in the south-eastern suburbs to discuss possible action.
Far-right trio convicted, fined $2000 each
United Patriots Front members Blair Cottrell, Christopher Shortis and Neil Erikson are all found guilty by a magistrate of inciting contempt, revulsion or ridicule of Muslims.
Police are on high alert and will monitor the meeting. The Crew is attempting to frustrate those efforts, keeping the details of the exact location under wraps. Participants will be sent location details Sunday morning, and photo ID will be checked at the door.
Legal advocates, meanwhile, say it is just the latest symptom of a growing movement toward vigilantism, the flames of which are being willingly fanned by our political leaders.
The first part of the meeting will deal with “lack of action by the courts”, the Crew wrote on Facebook.
“The 2nd part [of the meeting] is for those ready to take a stand on the streets, this part of the meeting isn’t for the PC (politically correct) so keep that in mind. PC is not going to stop people’s houses being invaded, innocent people being attacked etc.
“It is not for the ‘faint hearted’. It is time everyday Australians take a stand and take back our streets and sense of safety.”
A police spokeswoman said the force was “responding strongly” to recent African-gang-linked offending. Police were aware of the meeting and planned to attend, she said.
“As ever, we respect the rights of people to meet and air their views on political matters. We will not tolerate however any resulting acts of violence or antisocial behaviour.”
On Thursday, Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton rubbished any suggestion of an African gang crisis, calling it “complete and utter garbage”.
The Crew is one of several far-right groups that have sprung up across the country in the last few years. Anti-Islamic, anti-refugee and anti-asylum seeker, it advocates for bans on African immigration.
The Crew considers the streets its battleground, and its members have been involved in several violent scuffles with protesters and police at demonstrations across Melbourne.
The Crew has been contacted for comment
The group first appeared on the national scene in late 2015, when they joined other far-right groups at a huge and violent protest against plans for a new mosque in Melton.
Along with the United Patriots Front and the Soldiers of Odin, the Crew is one of the major far-right groups in Melbourne and they are growing quickly, says Anthony Kelly, executive officer of the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre.
“We have been anticipating this sort of thing.”
Black-uniformed Soldiers of Odin members have been running so-called ‘safety patrols‘ in the CBD at night since late 2016. Mr Kelly said the chances of vigilante groups engaging in violence continued to escalate.
“On their Facebook pages they do boast about taking on African people, but it’s usually just anecdotal. And there has been chatter about going out to Tarneit and other places, but we have not yet seen that in an organised way.”
Mr Kelly blamed “divisive racist rhetoric” from political leaders – like Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s claim Melburnians were afraid of going out to dinner – for splitting the community.
“What we’re seeing is federal politicians and far-right groups both taking their assessment of crime from the far-right media. Both are getting equally worked up over extraordinarily sensationalised media coverage.
“It’s now up to our political leadership to start working toward social cohesion rather than division. Through clear leadership we can de-escalate this. As a community we should have no tolerance for divisive, racist rhetoric.
“It’s a great irony that all the talk is around African gangs, which is spurious and ludicrous, and yet we do have gangs in Victoria which have patches and membership and clubhouses, and they happen to be the white nationalist gangs.”