Masked neo-Nazis arrested in Sydney

A group of about 40 men seen wearing black balaclavas and brandishing Australian flags at Artarmon train station in Sydney, Friday, January 26, 2024.
Passengers have been evacuated after a group of men wearing black balaclavas and brandishing Australian flags swarmed a Sydney train on 26 January 2024 (AAP/Transport for NSW).

Police have intervened in two attempted neo-Nazi rallies in Sydney, strengthening a push to tighten anti-vilification laws.

Six men were arrested on Friday when dozens of black-clad, masked men boarded a train from Artarmon station with the intention of staging a rally for Australia Day. Six were arrested and another 55 issued with fines.

On Sunday police responded to a gathering of at least 20 similarly dressed and masked men at Artarmon Reserve.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said extremist groups had “no place” in Australia and were “rightly condemned by all decent people”.

“I was horrified by those images,” Albanese told reporters on Saturday, before warning of a rise in neo-Nazi activity in Australia. “I say to these people, quite frankly, have a good look at yourself.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns described those involved as “pathetic”, saying they are “importing hate into New South Wales”.

Minns warned that police had the power to unmask those involved where they were “attempting to menace people in an anonymous way”.

“So in front of your family, your friends, your employers, your co-workers, you’ll be exposed as a massive racist,” he said.

The premier also reiterated his intention to change anti-vilification laws to outlaw the Nazi salute and other associated symbols.

“We are looking at the laws and examining them to make sure that overt Nazi gestures and symbols are outlawed in New South Wales, and we’ll make sure that the people of New South Wales are safe and we protect the tenants of our multicultural, harmonious community,” he said.

ECAJ co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said the incident was alarming given that it coincided with International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January.

“This weekend we saw uniformed neo-Nazis on the streets of Sydney. It is shocking to see a gang of neo-Nazis roaming freely through our streets,” he said.

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Albanese condemns actions of balaclava-clad neo-Nazis arrested by police after swarming Sydney train (Guardian)

NSW premier warns ‘pathetic’ neo-Nazis they will be exposed after attempted rally in Sydney park (Guardian)

Minns open to stronger laws to combat neo-Nazi behaviour (SMH)