Australia

'Racism does not make any of us safer': Police on Melbourne beach altercation

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Police have decried the "racism" behind an altercation at St Kilda Beach.

Police have spoken out after far-right activists filmed a group of people of African heritage at Melbourne's St Kilda Beach on Friday, which sparked a violent altercation.

On Saturday, Victoria's Police Minister Lisa Neville criticised individuals trying to "incite violence", saying that "racism does not make any of us safer".

Ms Neville said, "I don't care who it is, whoever is inciting or inflicting violence on communities and causing fear, our police will be there". 

A still from the video.
A still from the video.
Facebook

Far-right activist Neil Erikson posted a video of the incident on social media.

In the video, Mr Erikson and his group film the individuals playing football, despite being asked "can you stop that" three times.

"It's a public area mate, we can film where we want," one of Mr Erikson's group says, persisting with the filming.

As the situation begins to escalate, police move in.

"I'm not escalating ... It's a public area, I'm legally allowed to film," one of Mr Erikson's group tells police.

An altercation ensues and police pull a man of African heritage to the ground.

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville has spoken out against individuals inciting violence.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville has spoken out against individuals inciting violence.

One of Mr Erikson's group can be heard saying, "yes, yes, yes".

A 25-year-old was arrested for allegedly assaulting an officer.

On Saturday, Ms Neville said, "people will continue to see a large number of police across our beaches" over summer.

"I would encourage all people not to attempt to incite violence and cause trouble on our beaches or streets," she said.

It's not the first time Mr Erikson has made incendiary statements.

Last year, Mr Erikson and three others were found guilty of inciting serious contempt of Muslims after staging a mock beheading to protest against the building of a mosque in central Victoria.

Also last year, he appeared in an online video calling former senator Sam Dastyari, who is of Iranian heritage, a "terrorist" and a "monkey" at a Melbourne pub.

Neil Erikson outside the Federal Court, Melbourne earlier this year.
Neil Erikson outside the Federal Court, Melbourne earlier this year.
Supplied

Chelsea Beach attacks

The St Kilda incident occurred a day after a string of attacks at Melbourne's Chelsea Beach.

In a statement on Friday, Victoria Police said detectives were investigating several assaults and robberies that occurred at Chelsea Beach on Thursday night.

"The offenders were perceived to be African in appearance, aged in their late teens or early 20s," a police statement said.

Police said the group first rifled through the unattended belongings of swimmers at the beach.

A male swimmer was assaulted when he came out of the water to confront the youths before they fled with mobile phones and purses.

The group later assaulted a 28-year-old man, stealing his mobile phone, and assaulted two other men aged 25 and 30.

A 19-year-old man who was sitting on the sand was attacked with a glass bottle and assaulted with a plastic cricket bat. He was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

- Additional reporting: AAP

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