Eight people have been charged after protests between anti-Islam Reclaim Australia and pro-diversity left-wing groups around Australia.
Eight people, including six in Victoria, have been charged following rival anti-Islam and pro-diversity protests around Australia.
Anti-Islam rallies organised by the right-wing Reclaim Australia group in the capitals on Sunday were opposed by left-wing groups, who held their own protests at the same locations.
The largest rallies were in Melbourne, where Reclaim Australia and locals protested about the planned construction of a mosque.
Six people were arrested – one for animal cruelty accused of punching a police horse, two for riotous behaviour and three for weapons offences.
Capsicum spray was used as scuffles broke out between the rival mobs, which each numbered about 500 people.
In Brisbane, a 64-year-old man was charged with public nuisance after he allegedly jumped a barricade in a rowdy but non-violent protest in Brisbane’s CBD.
In Adelaide, a 48-year-old man was charged with affray in the rallies at Adelaide Festival Plaza.
All eight are expected to face court at a later date.
Protests were rowdy but largely peaceful in Sydney, Perth, Canberra and Hobart.
Victoria Police acting Commander Alan Byrnes said three people were injured but the protest was largely peaceful.
“It’s always a bit disappointing to see people turn up with masks,” he said.
“You wonder what their motives are for doing that, but we think all in all it was fairly peaceful.”
About 250 Reclaim Australia supporters abandoned their Brisbane CBD anti-Islam protest as pro-diversity groups chanted “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” across metal dividing barriers with up to 30 police stationed in-between.
Reclaim speakers were drowned out by about 350 counter-protesters with chants including “Nazi scum off our streets” and “Muslims are welcome, racists are not”.
Reclaim blasted Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh across the barriers in response, but were drowned out again when the counter-rally hit back with a louder rendition of John Farnham’s You’re The Voice.
In Sydney, crowds aligned with the Refugee Action Coalition pushed police along Macquarie Street from Martin Place, knocking batons from police belts before officers forced them back.
About 250 people, including parents with children on their shoulders, chanted pro-diversity slogans.
At the other end of Martin Place, Reclaim Australia protesters held two minutes’ silence – broken by calls of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” – for victims of terrorism worldwide.
Crowds aligned with the Refugee Action Coalition pushed police along Macquarie St from Martin Place, knocking batons from police belts before officers forced them back.
About 250 people, including parents with young children on their shoulders, chanted pro-diversity and pro-demonstration slogans.
“Next time we are going to make sure we have the numbers to demonstrate no matter what police say,” one man called over a loudspeaker.