Merri-bek City Council: Neo-Nazis disrupt mourning ceremony

A Melbourne council’s mourning ceremony has been interrupted by a group of far-right extremists.

Merri-bek City Council, formerly Moreland, was targeted by protesters on Thursday morning who have been described by the city’s mayor as “racist extremists”.

“Today we came together with around 70 members of our Merri-bek community for a mourning ceremony and a celebration of survival,” mayor Angelica Panopoulos said in a statement.

“There was an attempted disruption of the event by a group of far-right racist extremists,” Ms Panopoulos said.

“However, we continued with our ceremony to honour our First Nations community, and share in a moment of solidarity, resistance, reflection and mourning,” she said.

Ms Panopoulos said it had furthered Merri-bek’s resolve in working towards treaty and reconciliation.

“This incident shows us why we need to continue the conversation around January 26, and what it means to be living as a First Nations Person in Australia,” she said.

Ms Panopoulos thanked Victoria Police.

Merri-bek covers Melbourne’s inner north and northern suburbs, as is one of multiple Melbourne councils to officially abandon Australia Day.

Last year, the council changed its name from Moreland to Merri-bek following concerns from the local Aboriginal community over the racist connotations of Moreland.

Victoria Police confirmed officers responded to the incident.

“Officers formed a line between function attendees and the protesters at about 10:15am,” police said.

“The event was moved inside and the protesters departed,” they said.

Police said they would review body-worn footage to determine if any offences took place.

Local councillor Oscar Yildiz wasn’t in attendance, but told NCA NewsWire he had been informed “there was a fair bit of yelling and screaming”.

“Apparently there was a fracas and a bit of pushing and shoving,” Mr Yildiz said.

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