News / Crime

Neo-Nazis told to stay away

Council reaffirms opposition to hate speech after offensive graffiti painted on wall

The wall where the offensive graffiti was painted. Brunswick Voice has chosen to obscure the wording of the graffiti. Source: Facebook

Mark Phillips
Monday, May 17, 2021

NEO-NAZIS, you are not welcome here.

That’s the message after Moreland Council voted last week to reinforce its stance against hate speech.

The move, led by Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, follows the brazen appearance of Nazi graffiti on the side of a building within view of the Upfield Bike Path in March.

Although the graffiti — which Brunswick Voice has obscured — was removed within days of it first being spotted on March 20, it is likely it was seen by thousands of people before it disappeared.

Such was the public outrage at the appearance of the graffiti that the following weekend a rally was held at the nearby Bulleke-Bek Park to reaffirm a commitment to anti-racism.

Cr Bolton said Brunswick residents’ distress at the graffiti was exacerbated by a delay in removing it — which council officers have explained as being due to difficulty safely accessing the building it had been painted on.

At the meeting on May 12, she sought other councillors’ support to reaffirm the council’s total opposition to any form of hate speech and a commitment to take immediate steps to remove any future neo-Nazi signage as soon as it is discovered.

“While the pro-Nazi and far right race hate groups are small, they have become more confident to openly display their pro-Nazi and race hate views with graffiti and stickers,” Cr Bolton said.

In a separate Facebook post in March, she said the community could not allow “vile and violent Nazi imagery” to become normalised.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of Cr Bolton’s resolution, which includes making a public statement on Moreland’s website and social media opposing hate speech, and urging Metro Trains to review its processes to quickly remove offensive graffiti from rail reserves.

Moreland has had a fraught relationship with right wing extremist groups in recent years.

In 2016, an anti-racism rally in Coburg organised by Cr Bolton was hijacked by far right protesters, resulting in violent clashes between both groups. More than 500 police, including mounted officers, were required to restore the peace.

The following year, a small group of extremists were forcibly ejected after they stormed the council chamber in Coburg to protest against a policy to no longer celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

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