Police use pepper spray to break up violent rival race rallies in Melbourne

Riot police in Melbourne have used pepper spray to separate hundreds of rival protesters after clashes broke out between anti-Islam and anti-racism rallies. Hundreds of police formed a line between the two groups, but were unable to keep some protesters apart. Video shows several people, their faces covered with bandanas, using flagpoles flying the Australian flag to attack rival protesters. According to local media, both sides had been hurling abuse at each other during the marches with anti-racism protesters chanting: “Nazi scum, off our streets.”

We saw inappropriate and often cowardly behaviour, people wearing masks.

Victorian state Police Commander Sharon Cowden

The clashes happened on the same day as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten joined thousands of others to walk to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to show their support for Aboriginal reconciliation. Indigenous Australian Olympic gold medalist and Senator Nova Peris, who recently announced her decision to retire from politics, says there remains an “ugly side” to the country that needs to be addressed. Indigenous Australians are under-represented in the country’s parliament. When Ms Peris was elected to the Senate in 2013, she became the first Aboriginal woman ever to sit in the national parliament.

I’ll continue to wear ochre on my face just like my people have done for thousands of years! My skin is my pride.

Senator Nova Peris