An anti-racism rally organised by a local Socialist Alliance-affiliated councillor turned violent over the weekend, after members of the far-right United Patriot’s Front turned up and a melee ensued.

On the Melbourne Antifa (anti-fascist) Facebook page though, attention is being drawn to the actions of the police. Several images of the rally (we don’t have permission to reproduce them, but you can see them here) appear to show police pepper-spraying a group of journalists.

Victoria Police spokesperson Paul Turner told Crikey that Victoria Police “has not received any complaints and in fact received a number of compliments from the media who were present with respect to their professionalism under trying circumstances in Coburg on the weekend.”

“Victoria Police are aware of images circulating social media and will investigate any complaint received from members of the media.”

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Snapper Mathew Lynn, who was there taking photos for Fairfax (he’s in the photos in the black T-shirt), told us the photos were taken in the middle of a sudden escalation during which people from the two groups come together and “start beating the shit out of each other”. “Police were trying to subdue the situation, and we were caught in the middle. I wouldn’t say police were trying to target the media.”

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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