Fears right wing groups breeding out of Melbourne could try on a Capitol Hill-style riot are growing amid an escalation in right-wing activity.
On Monday, police nabbed two men linked to a far right group over a shocking incident that saw a security guard allegedly bashed on a city street.
The disturbing incident comes hot on the heels of increased sightings of neo-Nazi groups congregating en masse in country Victoria.
The disturbing incident comes hot on the heels of increased sightings of neo-Nazi groups congregating en masse in country Victoria and in the heart of Melbourne
Detectives from Victoria Police’s Counter Terrorism Command arrested Thomas Sewell, the leader of the National Socialist Network. He is pictured giving Channel 9 reporter Seb Costello the Nazi salute
A man was spotted wearing a Nazi-swastika armband (pictured above) in a Melbourne fresh market in February
On Wednesday, detectives from Victoria Police’s Counter Terrorism Command charged Thomas Sewell, the leader of the National Socialist Network, after he allegedly punched a security guard several times in an incident captured on video outside Channel 9’s Melbourne headquarters.
The 27-year-old Rowville man was charged with affray, recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault.
Amazingly, he was bailed by police without fronting a magistrate and instead will appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 27.
Police cut loose his 21-year old camera man ‘pending further enquiries’.
Deakin University counter-terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton told Daily Mail Australia that Victoria and Queensland had become breeding grounds for right wing groups.
‘It’s ramping up … We don’t have a situation like the January 6 Capitol Hill riots in Australia obviously – the US have still got 300-plus illegal militia fully armed going around with AR 15s,’ he said.
‘But people who turned up at the Capitol, we’ve got that same mix of influence.’
An unrepentant Sewell, who labelled his alleged victim a ‘buffoon’, later posted a video of himself dressing down Channel 9 reporter Seb Costello, whom he had been trying to visit when all hell broke loose.
‘It’s very obvious that you guys are bullies, it’s very obvious you guys go to people’s houses, harass them at work, you harass them wherever you go, you ask them a question,’ Sewell said.
‘But when somebody comes to your house and knocks on your door, you guys send security out and try to strong arm and push us away.’
He ended his rant by giving Costello the Nazi salute, declaring: ‘Have that one for the camera, you cowards.’
Police clashed with supporters of US President Donald Trump who breached security and entered the Capitol building in Washington D.C., United States on January 6
Actor Russell Crowe portrayed the neo-Nazi leader Hando in the 1992 movie Romper Stomper, which was based on gang warfare in Melbourne’s Footscray area
A security guard was allegedly assaulted outside Channel 9 on Monday night by Thomas Sewell, the leader of the National Socialist Network
Capitol Hill Riots
The storming of the United States Capitol was a riot and violent attack against the 117th United States Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
Part of the 2020–21 U.S. election protests, it was carried out by a mob of supporters of Donald Trump, the 45th U.S. president, in a failed attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
The Capitol was placed under lockdown and lawmakers were evacuated while rioters occupied and vandalised the Capitol Building.
Five people died and more than 140 were injured.
Not since the 1992 film Romper Stomper has Australia’s southern-most mainland state been thrown into the spotlight for neo-Nazi violence.
The film turned Russell Crowe into a Hollywood mega-star with his gritty portrayal of a neo-Nazi lunatic living in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Back then, it was the large Vietnamese community that had migrated to the Footscray area causing outrage among angry young Melburnians.
While a dramatisation of the events, the movie captured the gritty, racist underbelly of Melbourne in the 90s – attitudes that have continued to fester quietly over the following decades.
Since an Australian gunman killed 51 worshippers at mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch in 2019, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has said the far-right threat had ‘increased’ and become an ‘enduring threat’.
Far-right groups opposed to immigration have sprouted up across Australia, with neo-Nazis among their followers in Melbourne.
Mainstream media is loathe to provide the groups a platform that might promote their often dangerous rhetoric.
But a series of disturbing events across Victoria in recent months has seen the hate mongers plastered across news bulletins.
Pictured: A group of white supremacists at the Grampians National Park, performing the Seig Heil
A mob of True Blue Crew and United Patriots Front supporters gathered at St Kilda beach (pictured) in Melbourne in 2019 to protest against African gangs across the city
Pictured: Members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Network pose next to racist graffiti in Melbourne
Professor Barton said ASIO was busier than ever dealing with terror threats from right wing groups.
‘Jobs that they’re working on that involve far right groups, four years ago was 10-15 percent. Now it’s 30-40 percent. So it’s tripled is basically what they’re saying,’ he said.
On Wednesday it was revealed a parliamentary committee examining anti-vilification protections was reviewing a recommendation to ban the display of Nazi symbols in public in Victoria.
At present, Nazi swastika flags are freely able to be displayed in public across the state.
Just last month, a shop being run by a man who wore a Nazi symbol ring was found to be trading out of a Pascoe Vale market.
The words ‘Nazi Scum Out’ were subsequently painted in bright red letters across the glass of the store’s front window, with anti-fascist slogans accompanying the message.
Another man was seen proudly wearing a swastika armband while food shopping at the Moorabbin Wholesale Farmers Fresh market, south-east of Melbourne.
Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, Dr Dvir Abramovich, who has been campaigning to outlaw public displays of the Nazi swastika for the last three years, urged the government to introduce the laws immediately.
‘This is a thunderous day for the history books that will not be denied, and a resounding defeat of those agents of evil who seek to keep Hitler’s legacy alive,’ he said.
‘With this announcement, the committee has declared in a clear and unmistakable voice that the ultimate emblems of inhumanity, genocide and racism, that are meant to break our spirit and instil fear, will never find a refuge in our state.’
A Melbourne shop that was selling Nazi war relics was attacked after reports circulated that its owner wore a Nazi ring
Traders of Nazi items claim only true collectors buy the items and not neo-Nazis.
In Melbourne, men wearing swastika armbands collect their groceries like they are wearing a Bonds singlet
Deakin University’s Professor Greg Barton (pictured) said far-right groups were becoming an increasing problem for federal police
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews recently warned that anti-Semitism was on the rise in Australia.
The Holocaust saw the murder of an estimated six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators after they came into power in Germany in 1933.
Mr Andrews warned that ‘evil’ and ‘wicked’ antisemitism was on the rise after a meeting of neo-Nazis in Victoria’s Grampians national park in January.
Police investigated the incident which involved about 20 or 30 men who could be heard chanting white power slogans and ‘Heil Hitler’.
‘I would make the point as well, that many would argue, and the international evidence is very clear, and indeed the local evidence, that antisemitism is on the rise,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘And it’s an evil thing, it’s a wicked thing. I’ll just take this opportunity to send a message to the Jewish community across Victoria. You have and you continue to make a profound contribution to our state.’
Daily Mail Australia has been told authorities are reluctant to speak publicly about how concerned they are about Melbourne’s right wing groups.
Australian Federal Police refused to comment to Daily Mail Australia at all, instead directing inquiries to Victoria Police.
In a statement to Daily Mail Australia, Victoria Police said it was closely monitoring a range of groups to ensure there was no threat to public safety.
‘We are equipped and well-prepared to deploy resources and to respond and intervene where needed,’ the statement read.
In April, a Nazi flag was seen on the Telstra phone tower on Bradley Street in Kyabram, north of Melbourne.
Professor Barton said the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne had helped fuel support for right wing groups.
‘A lot more people were feeling anxious locked inside, frustrated, angry and consuming a lot on online content so that accelerated things substantially,’ he said.
The groups stretch far beyond the United States and have reached disturbing proportions across Europe, including Germany which has long banned Nazi symbols in public.
‘I think that’s a good idea, but … Germany has had a persistent problem with neo-Nazi behaviour for the last 75 years. It hasn’t got on top of the problem and it’s got a big problem with neo-Nazism inside the German police forces and military.’
While the world has seen a global increase in neo-Nazi activity over the past 10 years, Professor Barton claims Melbourne has surprised experts with its move to the extreme right.
Far-right groups opposed to immigration are sprouting up across Australia, with neo-Nazis among their followers. Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting those pictured above are members of extremist groups, only that they participated in a St Kilda rally in 2019
‘You would think Melbourne would be the more liberal end of the spectrum but the things are kind of weird in this space,’ he said.
‘What we’re told by ASIO is their biggest caseload work is in Victoria and Queensland … it doesn’t seem to make sense on the Victoria side.’
Without firm data, Professor Barton has speculated Victoria’s current premier may have inadvertently added fuel to the fire.
‘It’s like the US situation where if you’ve got a government like our current Premier Andrews who is sort of quite on the front foot with a stance on progressive issues, it probably results in a lot of people feeling angry and frustrated,’ he said.
‘And also because it’s probably more permissive environment and people perhaps feel more emboldened to go and organise an anti-COVID lockdown protest.’
The Antipodean Resistance (pictured), a Melbourne-based group of radicalised neo-Nazis, describe themselves as ‘the Hitlers you’ve been waiting for’