Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said it was “shocking” to see a gang of neo-Nazis roaming the streets of Sydney, while NSW Premier Chris Minns vowed police had the power to rip off their masks and expose them.
Around 60 men, mostly wearing black masks and clothes, were intercepted at North Sydney station on Australia Day. Melbourne-based Thomas Sewell, who heads the far-right group known as the National Socialist Network, was filmed being served by officers with a legal order banning him from attending any Australia Day events in Sydney, before police then broke up a gathering on Saturday evening in North Turramurra.
Many of the neo-Nazis who gathered in Sydney were from interstate, with Minns promising that NSW Police are “not going to be tolerant of this obnoxious and appalling behaviour”.
“The message to racists, particularly those from interstate, is that you’re not welcome here,” Minns said.
“And I just want to make this point clear if hasn’t been made clear before, in New South Wales the police have the right to unmask Nazis on our streets.
“You’ll be exposed as a racist to your family, your friends, your employers and your workmates for the first time.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned the group, saying, “There is nothing to be got in this country through hatred.
“We have a responsibility to look to what unites us, not what divides us. And I say to these people, quite frankly, look at yourself.”
Ryvchin noted Saturday was International Holocaust Memorial Day, and that the “Invasion Day” protests on the previous day had featured anti-Israel chants.
“We saw uniformed neo-Nazis on the streets of Sydney and chants for boycotts of Jewish businesses and the destruction of the Jewish state,” he said.
“It has been said to me by numerous community members since October 7 that they feel relief that their parents or grandparents who survived the Holocaust are not alive to see this fresh descent into madness.”
He praised NSW Police for restraining the hateful group and said the incident is a reminder about the need for vigilance in the face of violent movements.
“The police were right to restrain them to prevent any possibility of violence,” Ryvchin said.
“Ironically, they have much in common with the pro-Palestinian element that has latched onto Australia Day protests. They support fascism and violence. They want to destroy our country and are obsessed with anti-Jewish conspiracies.”