Police acting on intelligence that some protesters due to attend an anti-Islam rally and a counter protest in Melbourne’s west were planning violence have charged a man after a weapon was found at his home.
The 31-year-old was detained after officers searched the property in Braybrook, before facing an out-of-sessions court hearing on Thursday evening, charged with possessing a prohibited weapon and a drug-related offence.
He did not apply for bail and has been remanded in custody.
Reclaim Australia and No Room for Racism are both planning to hold rallies in Melton on Sunday.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane would not say which viewpoint the charged man held.
“I don’t try to differentiate between sides – unfortunately we’ve got two extremes in Victoria that are prepared to use violence to see their point of view take its place,” he said.
“The intelligence we had was with regards to some weapons that may have been taken or not taken, so we’ve executed a warrant and we’ve received some weapons.”
Assistant Commissioner Leane said police were struggling to work out exactly where the groups would rally on Sunday.
“The left side is refusing to cooperate with police and have a conversation with us and the right is giving us as much conversation as they can,” he said.
“But we understand in the background they’re trying to out-manoeuvre each other, so we’re just trying to keep up.”
He said previous protests had shown the need for a strong police presence.
“I think the demonstration in the city and the two rallies in Bendigo show us – both police and the community – that the extreme views on either side are prepared to use violence to get their word heard the most,” he said.
He urged both sides to rally peacefully.
“Paris has had a significant impact on the Western world … from a Victoria Police perspective, we understand that this will draw out great emotion right across the community in Victoria and Australia,” he said.
“What I ask is people think through what that emotion might be and reflecting that the emotion of the weekend through violence is not going to achieve anything in the Australian perspective, it won’t achieve anything in Melton, and it certainly won’t bring any comfort for the victims in Paris.”