Coburg rally: Police out in force as anti-Islam, anti-racist groups face off
Coburg rally: Police out in force as anti-Islam, anti-racist groups face off published by Mooba
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Posted on 2016-05-28
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VIOLENT protesters who clashed at today’s Coburg rally have been branded cowards as police revealed knives were among weapons seized.
Five men were arrested for riotous behaviour and other violence and another two over weapons and other offences.
A police officer was injured during the madness after being exposed to pepper spray.
Three protesters sustained minor injuries.
taskforce will be established to track down culprits who evaded officers.
And police issued a warning to masked thugs who attend such events with the intention of causing violence.
Commander Sharon Codwen said: “We saw inappropriate and often cowardly behaviour with people wearing masks and hiding their identity.”
“People hide their identity and I believe it makes them more violent when they are on the streets,” she said.
“What happened today is not on and we will be looking at the footage, finding out what else we can do, to track these people down and bring them to justice.”
An estimated 400 people were involved in today’s rally.
More than 275 searches for weapons were conducted before the clashes with several knives and other prohibited weapons found.
Commander Cowden said police were well prepared and acted professionally despite failing to stop the violence completely.
“Victoria Police knew there would be clashes and we prepared well for this,’’ she said.
“We had significant numbers of police on the ground.
“As the clashes occurred what we did was what we planned — then they would move on and our plan was to be flexible.
“There was clashes on both sides so I condemn the behaviour of both sides but mostly it’s the extremes.
“You get the extremes and they are often very cowardly and they will come along and they are looking for a fight and that’s what we saw today.
“I’m really disappointed.
“Unfortunately we are starting to see more and more of these protests in the street and I just ask that people be respectful.
“We have all got the right to be heard. But let’s be respectful and let’s avoid the clashes because the messages that you want to send don’t come out when you get this sort of stuff on the six o’clock news.
“It’s not good enough.”
Those arrested were a 25-year-old Bendigo man and a 31-year-old Skye man charged with riotous behaviour.
A 33-year-old Broadmeadows man was charged with attempted robbery, a 31-year-old East Keilor man with assaulting police and a 25-year-old Reservoir man with hindering police.
A male whose age was not yet available was arrested over possession of three knives and released with penalty notices.
An 18-year-old Gisborne man was also charged with possession of a prohibited article comprising graffiti implements and a lock pick set and released pending further inquiries and summons.
Earlier police said checkpoints would be set up after protesters at other rallies were found to be armed. The Herald Sun revealed this week that the total bill to taxpayers of policing these protests, following this weekend’s rally in Coburg, will top $1.7 million.
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