Protesters clash with police amid heated stand-off in Melbourne CBD

Rachael Ward
The Nightly
Police have clashed with protesters in front of Victoria's parliament. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS)
Police have clashed with protesters in front of Victoria's parliament. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Protesters have clashed with police while attempting to breach a barrier between rival demonstrations in Melbourne’s CBD.

More than 1000 people, some waving Israeli flags, are attending a rally outside state parliament which organisers say is intended to promote social cohesion and stand against hate and anti-Semitism.

Hundreds of people have turned out for a pro-Palestine counter-demonstration further down the street.

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Police have set up barriers around the main protest, where hundreds of people are listening to music and speeches.

Officers quickly stopped one person outside the perimeter who briefly broke through the barrier, while several others have unsuccessfully tried to get past police.

At one point, officers from the mounted branch went out into the pro-Palestine protest.

Police previously warned they would have a highly visible presence.

ANTI SEMITISM RALLY  Never Again Is Now
Pro-Palestinian protesters have faced off with police outside the Victorian parliament. Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui/News Corp Australia
ANTI SEMITISM RALLY  Never Again Is Now
A number of protesters were seen taken to the ground by police. Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui/News Corp Australia

“Victoria Police respects the right for people to protest lawfully however we ask that they do so peacefully without impacting the broader community,” a spokesperson said.

Former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu and state Liberal MP David Southwick are among those in attendance at the anti-Semitism rally, which has been organised by a “Christian grassroots movement”.

A video message from Opposition Leader Peter Dutton was played to those in attendance.

ANTI SEMITISM RALLY  Never Again Is Now
Protesters waved Palestinian flags and wore traditional keffiyeh. Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui/News Corp Australia
ANTI SEMITISM RALLY  Never Again Is Now
Dozens of officers were stationed outside parliament. Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui/News Corp Australia

“In the battle against anti-Semitism in Australia, I say to Australians of Jewish faith, you are not alone,” Mr Dutton said in the message.

“The fight will not be yours alone.”

Protest group Free Palestine Melbourne earlier posted a message to social media urging supporters to exercise caution and avoid the anti-Semitism demonstrators who they warned could “provoke violent confrontation”.

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