News State Victoria Far-right group clash at St Kilda Beach

Far-right group clash at St Kilda Beach

st kilda beach
Police officers asked the far-right group including nationalist Neil Erikson why they were filming the men playing soccer. Photo: Neil Erikson
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Victoria’s Police Minister has warned the community against inciting violence after far-right activists filmed a group of men playing soccer at St Kilda Beach, refusing multiple police requests to stop recording.

A video of the incident posted on social media by far-right activist Neil Erikson shows footage of young men playing soccer on the St Kilda foreshore around 5.30pm on Friday.

“Can you stop that?” one of the group of around 15 people being filmed asks the activists three times, before another member of the group attempts to push the camera down.

“I’m allowed to film, mate, don’t touch me … it’s a public area mate, you can film where you want,” one of the activists can be heard replying.

“What are you recording us for?” one of the young men asks.

Some members of the group of young men can also be seen attempting to defuse tensions.

Police officers then moved in to separate the two groups, and can be heard repeatedly asking the activist group why they are filming and requesting that they stop the recording and move on from the beach.

The activists refuse to stop filming, and one can be heard saying “I’m just filming, it’s a public area, I’m legally allowed to film”.

Shortly afterwards the video shows a scuffle between one of the men and officers, and the activists can be heard saying “yes, yes, yes” and running towards the altercation with the camera.

Capsicum spray is used and the man vomits as he is held on the ground and arrested.

Police said a 25-year-old man was interviewed and released, and is expected to be charged on summons with assaulting police, resisting arrest and failing to move on when directed.

The incident at the St Kilda foreshore comes a day after several beachgoers at nearby Chelsea Beach were robbed and a man smashed in the head with a bottle by a group of young people.

Activist holds conviction for inciting ‘serious contempt’

Last year, Erikson was convicted of inciting serious contempt against Muslims, over a mock beheading he staged in the regional Victorian city of Bendigo in 2015.

Earlier this month, he gatecrashed the microphone on the stage of an African music and cultural festival at Federation Square in order to declare “it’s ok to be white” – a phrase commonly used by white supremacists.

It is also not the first time Erikson has confronted people from racial minority groups in Australia with a camera.

Last year, he called former Labor senator Sam Dastyari – who was born in Iran – a “terrorist” and a “monkey” when he filmed him without his consent in a Melbourne pub.

Racism ‘does not make any of us safer’

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville praised police on their response to the incident, and warned that “racism itself does not make any of us safer”.

“People who attempt to incite – whatever their background – incite violence … should be held to account by police and the law,” Ms Neville said.

“I want people to let police get on and do their job of keeping our beaches and our streets safe, which they do a great job of.

“I would encourage all people not to attempt to incite violence and cause trouble on our beaches or our streets.”

A Victoria Police spokesperson said no other people had been arrested or charged over the incident.