Police, protesters and media converged on the Sydney suburb of Cronulla on the 10th anniversary of violent race riots as a group of self-described patriots held a “halal-free” barbecue.
More than 100 officers took to the streets on Saturday, many on horseback, after the NSW Supreme Court and the Federal Court in Sydney both made rulings to prevent a rally commemorating the riots being held.
Instead of a rally, anti-Islam protesters held a barbecue on Saturday.
Counter-protesters were also in the area, although the heavy police presence kept the opposing groups separated for the most part.
Two people were arrested from groups of anti-racism protesters, with some people holding banners including “Anti Fascist Action Sydney” and “Cronulla Welcomes Muslims”.
Later, police funnelled the bulk of the counter-protesters onto city-bound trains, with riot police accompanying them onto the carriages.
The procedure was completed without major incident, barring some verbal scuffles.
Barbecue held in place of ‘memorial rally’
Party for Freedom chairman Nicholas Folkes was ordered not to hold a “memorial” rally on the grounds that it would stir up racial hatred.
He branded the decisions “sharia” law before pledging to hold the “halal-free” barbecue.
Today, about 50 supporters of a self-described patriots organisation gathered near the suburb’s sand dunes for the meal, which included a pig on a spit-roast.
Speaking at the barbecue, Mr Folkes criticised the court’s decision.
“When you do speak up today, and you’re a patriot and you love your country, the political establishment and those useful idiots on the left think there’s something wrong,” he said.
“It’s not just people here, there’s millions of Australians that feel the same.”
Earlier in the day, Folkes appeared on commercial television to show his car tyres, which he said had been slashed the night before.
On December 11 2005, racial tensions in the area exploded when Middle Easterners and other people of non-Anglo appearance were set upon by crowds of white Australians, many of whom had been drinking heavily.
The weekend of violence followed weeks of simmering racial tensions in the beachside suburb between locals and visiting groups of youths.
The bloody weekend shocked Australians of all backgrounds, leading to years of soul-searching and community programs aimed at mending bridges between Sydney’s communities.