Tuesday, July 21, 2015
3-400 anti-racist activists faced off against 4-500 "Reclaim Australia demonstrators in Perth on July 19. This was part of a national weekend of counter rallies against those called by the far right group 'Reclaim Australia'.
The first Reclaim Australia rally in Perth on April 4 was clearly larger than the counter protest that was called at last minute. However this rally saw an increase in anti-racist numbers and a possible decline in Reclaim numbers.
The rally itself was addressed by a range of union and community activists condemning Reclaim's racist and divisive agenda. These included Linda Goncalves from the Civil Service Association and 'Jammo' Jamieson from the Maritime Union of Australia. Marziya Mohammedali spoke as a Muslim Activist and Mick Sutor spoke as a representative of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee.
Wiwince Pigome spoke as a West Papuan activist which was significant since Reclaim made an attempt to present itself as supportive of the West Papuan independence movement. She began her talk by saying that "in the West Papuan struggle, there is no room for racism".
"We are up against the system," she said. "But we are not against the Muslims."
Anti-racist activists have vowed to organiser further actions if Reclaim mobilises again. In particular, Solidarity Park is an important site for the trade union movement in WA, having been the location of a 1997 Workers' Embassy in opposition the Court government's 'third wave' industrial relations legislation.
Reclaim Australia has intentionally aimed at associating their activities with the park in an effort to associate their campaign with that of 'the underdog', 'the battler'. Unions WA has distanced the union movement from Reclaim Australia and anti-racist activists are determined to deny them an association with Solidarity Park.
[This article by Chris Jenkins first appeared in Green Left Weekly 20 July 2015. Photos by Alex Bainbridge. Video by Green Left TV.]