An arrest and scuffles with police as left and right supporters rally in Melbourne CBD

 sbs.com.au  9/17/2017 6:18:07 AM 

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1 HOUR AGO  UPDATED 49 MINS AGO

A woman has been arrested for attacking photographers as a man was pulled from an anti-fascism rally in Melbourne for covering his face.

Hundreds of anti-racism and anti-fascism protesters gathered at the State Library before marching up to parliament in Melbourne's CBD on Sunday to confront a small right-wing group rallying for a safer Victoria.

A man dressed all in black, sporting a close-crop mohawk, silently stood among the left wing protesters before police swooped in and asked him to remove his mask, which was in breach of new anti-face covering laws.

He refused and was dragged from the crowd to a side street where he was handcuffed and searched.

"This is not ethical, it is not ethical journalism what you're doing you're invading my f...ng privacy and my right to f....ing be here and conceal my identity for my own private reasons," he yelled at journalists recording his arrest after his mask was removed.

A young woman also dressed in black then trampled through a garden to start attacking photographers.

She hit the camera of an AAP photographer and spat on another before being arrested and put into the back of a police van.

The anti-racism rally was dubbed "From Charlottesville to Melbourne: Unite to Fight the Far Right".

Dozens of police escorted up to 300 protesters as they marched to parliament and several people were told to remove face coverings by officers.

The two groups were separated by barricades and scores of armed police.

A small group who said they were holding a peaceful, non-racist safety rally, included people who wore True Blue Crew, Soldiers of Odin and Southern Cross symbols on shirts and jackets.

The rally was calling for minimum sentencing and no bail for violent offenders was organised by gym owner and former Israeli defence force member Avi Yemini.

Neil Erikson, recently convicted of inciting contempt for a dummy beheading stunt against a mosque, was among the 100 people rallying for a safer Victoria.

That group spent an hour talking about no longer feeling safe and calling for the Andrews government to do more, before Erikson took to a megaphone to antagonise the counter protest.

"Eighty per cent of lefties live at home with their mum and dad ha ha," he yelled.

Victoria Police promised a strong presence at the rallies to maintain public safety and a designated zone would be in place.

Police can conduct weapons searches and request protesters to remove any facial coverings if they are being used to conceal identities or protect from crowd control measures in a designated zone.

After the rallies, police escorted both sides away from parliament in different directions.

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