United Patriots Front

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United Patriots Front
UPF-logo-Gold-logo.png
Formation 2015
Purpose Anti-Islam
Australian nationalism (Ultranationalism)
Ethnic nationalism
Far-right politics
Anti-multiculturalism
Anti-immigration
Fascism
Location
Chairman
Blair Cottrell
Split from Reclaim Australia

The United Patriots Front (UPF) is a far-right Australian nationalist protest group which is associated with nationalist and neo-Nazi hate groups.[1][2]. Based in the state of Victoria, UPF is a nationalist anti-Islam organisation that opposes immigration, multiculturalism and Islam by street protests.[3][4][5] It is a splinter group from the anti-Islamic Reclaim Australia group, formed after a dispute between Shermon Burgess and Reclaim Australia organisers.[6][7] The group has been described by a number of media outlets and journalists as a hate group,[8] and has claimed solidarity with Golden Dawn, a Greek Metaxist, fascist party.[9] UPF leader Blair Cottrell has been linked to neo-Nazism.[10]

Leadership[edit]

Blair Cottrell[edit]

Blair Cottrell is the Chairman of the United Patriot's Front, having replaced Shermon Burgess in October 2015.[11] Cottrell has been criticised by the media due to his criminal convictions (which include arson, stalking, making threats to kill, serious contempt of Muslims and breaching intervention orders[12][13][14]), and for several of his public statements, including a desire to see a portrait of Adolf Hitler hung in Australian classrooms and for copies of Mein Kampf to be "issued annually" to students.[15] Cottrell has denied supporting Nazism.[16]

In February 2016, Cottrell was mocked after being photographed purchasing a meal from a halal-certified fast-food restaurant, despite his vocal opposition to halal certification and support for boycotts of certified businesses and products.[17][18]

In 2012, Blair served four months in Port Phillip Prison after being convicted of stalking his ex-girlfriend and her new partner, and of arson after attempting to burn down the man's house.[19] In December 2013 he was fined $1,000 and sentenced to seven days in jail by a County Court judge for aggravated burglary, property damage, arson, trafficking testosterone, possessing a controlled weapon and breaching court orders.[20]

History[edit]

2015[edit]

In May, UPF led a demonstration in Richmond, Victoria purporting to be against left-wing violence and Councillor Stephen Jolly, of the Socialist Party.[21] The group has been accused of being extremist, racist, and having neo-Nazi supporters.[22]

In June, the group protested Zaky Mallah's appearance on Q&A, a television programme, by roasting a pig outside the Melbourne office of the ABC in an apparent attempt to upset Muslims.[23][24] On 23 July, Victoria Police commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed a firearm was seized in Sydney from a man who was travelling to the rally on 18 July.[25]

In August, Fairfax Media reported that one of the group's leaders, Neil Erikson, was under investigation for alleged conversations with an unknown person threatening councillor Stephen Jolly.[26]

In September, the group announced that they would contest the Senate at the upcoming 2016 Federal election.[27][28] The group also distributed pamphlets to municipal, state, and federal government figures that attacked the Bendigo mayor. The pamphlet was interpreted as threat by one official.[29]

In October, the group beheaded a dummy outside the Bendigo City Council chambers to protest the 2015 Parramatta shooting and approval to construct a mosque in Bendigo.[30] A leader of the local anti-mosque group disassociated from the UPF.[31] They later held a demonstration in Rosalind park which attracted around 1,000 supporters in conjunction with the World Wide rally for Humanity, which was a global anti-Islam rally. A Victorian police officer said that most protesters who came to protest in Bendigo travelled from other Australian states.[31]

On the eve of the proposed 10 October rally in Bendigo, the group was criticised by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who said they "wouldn't be able to spell Bendigo".[32]

In November the group stated their intention to start a political party called Fortitude.[33] However, it failed to sign up the 500 members needed to get Fortitude on the Senate ballot paper for the 2016 election, according to author John Safran.[34] Safran also said that members of the 19CC Motorcycle Club had been associating with the UPF. The club's patch featured a red crucifix with the words "No FGM". The 'CC' in the club's name reportedly stood for Citizen Crusaders.[35]

An administrator of the group's Facebook page was featured in a video with Australia First Party chairman Jim Saleam.[36] Cottrell told Neil Mitchell his organisation would "only be violent if they needed to defend themselves".[37]

2016[edit]

In April 2016, United Patriots Front was lambasted in the Australian media following the unfurling of a banner with the words "Stop the Mosques" at an Australian Football League match between Collingwood Football Club and Richmond Football Club at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 1 April.[38] The media and officials of the sport condemned the UPF supporters, for action described as being "offensive",[39] "disgusting"[40] and "racist" for their involvement with the banner.[41] On 10 April, the banner was displayed at another Australian Football League game in Perth. The UPF members were removed from the grounds and the banner confiscated.[42]

2017[edit]

Prominent members of the group including Cottrell, and former members Erikson and Chris Shortis, were charged with serious religious vilification, among other offenses. In September 2017, they were convicted for inciting serious contempt of Muslims, each were fined $2,000.[43]

In May 2017, it was reported that the Facebook pages for Cottrell and the UPF pages were removed by Facebook. At their peak, they had 120,000 likes.[44][4]

On September 5, 2017, Erikson and a number of other protesters interrupted a meeting of the Yarra Council in protest of their decision to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day.[45]

2018[edit]

In January, the UPF courted controversy by attempting to arrange vigilante patrols to help maintain law and order in some Melbourne suburbs, in a stated response to "Gangs of Africans". This was reported by Channel 7 news, to accusations that they were giving neo-Nazis a speech platform.[46][47]

In June, it was reported that the group opened private men-only clubs in Melbourne and Sydney for Nationalists.[48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Judith Bessant; Rys Farthing; Rob Watts (2017). The Precarious Generation: A Political Economy of Young People. Taylor & Francis. p. 180. ISBN 978-1-317-28917-3. 
  2. ^ Salim Farrar; Ghena Krayem (2016). Accommodating Muslims Under Common Law: A Comparative Analysis. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-317-96422-3. 
  3. ^ Younger, Emma; Oaten, James (4 September 2017). "Far-right nationalists face court over dummy beheading, claim they're on 'political trial'". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved 4 September 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Polychronis, Jacob (11 May 2017). "United Patriots Front leader accuses Facebook of 'government censorship' after far-right group BANNED and personal accounts removed". Daily Mail Australia. Retrieved 4 September 2017. 
  5. ^ "Fears rallies could lead to clashes". News.com.au. 31 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  6. ^ "Anti-Islam protesters and anti-racism activists clash in Melbourne". The Australian. 31 May 2015. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Hall, Bianca (17 October 2015). "Street fights and 'internet vigilantes': Inside Australia's anti-Islam movement". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  8. ^ McPherson, Tahlia (20 September 2015). "Albury mosque the next stop for protestors". The Border Mail. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  9. ^ Patrick Hatch, Far-right anti-Islam group to rally at Victorian Parliament House, The Age (12 June 2016).
  10. ^ Michael Bachelard & Luke McMahon, Blair Cottrell, rising anti-Islam movement leader, wanted Hitler in the classroom, Sydney Morning Herald (17 October 2015).
  11. ^ "Anti-Islam group leader Sherman Burgess the Great Aussie Patriot quits United Patriots Front after members tease him in Great Aussie Potator Facebook video. - Yahoo7". Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  12. ^ Blair Cottrell Leader of the United Patriots Front. Vimeo. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  13. ^ Blair Cottrell — Speaking from Port Phillip Prison (as an inmate). 22 February 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016 – via YouTube. 
  14. ^ "Far-right nationalists found guilty of inciting serious contempt for Muslims". ABC News. 2017-09-05. Retrieved 2017-09-06. 
  15. ^ "Anti-Islam leader Blair Cottrell wants photo of HITLER in Australian classrooms". Mail Online. 17 October 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  16. ^ "Blair Cottrell, rising anti-Islam movement leader, wanted Hitler in the classroom", Michael Bachelard, Luke McMahon, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 2015.
  17. ^ Chad Freeman (4 February 2016). "Anti-Halal Campaigner Blair Cottrell Spotted At Kebab Shop". Complex AU. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  18. ^ "Melbourne anti-Islam protester defends fellow activists eating halal kebabs". Mail Online. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  19. ^ "Blair Cottrell jail interviews". Youtube. 
  20. ^ "Herald Sun — United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell details violent criminal past in video". 
  21. ^ "What happens when you interview someone who thinks you're 'filth'?". 3AW Radio, Melbourne. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  22. ^ "Clash in Bridge Rd Richmond between United Patriots Front and Campaign against Racism and Fascism 'an early wake-up signal'". PerthNow. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  23. ^ "Anti-Islam group protests outside ABC building over Zaky Mallah's Q&A appearance". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  24. ^ "Far-right anti-Islam group to rally at Victorian Parliament House". The Age. 
  25. ^ "Gun seized from Reclaim Australia-bound protester prompts safety concerns amongst police". ABC News. 
  26. ^ "Police investigate kill threats against Councillor Stephen Jolly". Fairfax Media. 
  27. ^ "The Great Aussie Patriot | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  28. ^ Hall, Bianca (2015-09-11). "Far-right group UPF plans to run for Senate and campaign on right to 'bare arms'". The Age. Retrieved 2015-10-01. 
  29. ^ "Mosque foes take aim at Bendigo council". 
  30. ^ Worrall, Allison. "Anti-Islam group beheads dummy in protest of Bendigo mosque". The Age. Retrieved 2015-10-04. 
  31. ^ a b "Bendigo's anti-mosque protest: United Patriots Front nationalist group behind demonstration". ABC News. 
  32. ^ Hall, Bianca. "Anti-mosque protesters 'wouldn't be able to spell Bendigo': Premier Daniel Andrews". The Age. Retrieved 2015-10-09. 
  33. ^ Young, J; Cavanagh, R. "United Patriots Front to start political party called Fortitude". Herald Sun. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  34. ^ Safran, John (2017). Depends What You Mean By Extremist: Going Rogue with Australian Deplorables. Penguin Random House Australia. p. 260. ISBN 9781926428772. 
  35. ^ Safran, John (2017). Depends What You Mean By Extremist: Going Rogue with Australian Deplorables. Penguin Random House Australia. pp. 146, 148. ISBN 9781926428772. 
  36. ^ "Far-right anti-Islam group to rally at Victorian Parliament House". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  37. ^ "Anti-Islam rally organiser cannot guarantee protest will be violence-free". 3AW. 
  38. ^ Staff; agencies (1 April 2016). "AFL and Collingwood condemn display of anti-Islam banner during game" – via The Guardian. 
  39. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-01/afl-condemns-offensive-banner-unfurled-at-collingwood-richmond-/7294078
  40. ^ "'Disgusting' banner mars Magpies' win — The New Daily". 1 April 2016. 
  41. ^ "Subscribe — theaustralian". (subscription required)
  42. ^ "United Patriots Front evicted from West Coast vs Fremantle game for anti-mosque banner". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  43. ^ "Far-right nationalists found guilty of inciting serious contempt for Muslims". ABC News. 2017-09-05. Retrieved 2017-09-06. 
  44. ^ http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/facebook-removes-united-patriots-front-page/news-story/8af5deae4152cdfbe46378ee9b4d902b
  45. ^ "Far-right group disrupts council meeting to protest against Australia Day changes". ABC News. 2017-09-06. Retrieved 2017-09-06. 
  46. ^ Davey, Melissa (15 January 2018). "Channel Seven under fire over interview with far-right activist". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 
  47. ^ Brook, Benedict (15 January 2018). "Channel 7 accused of going soft on racism by airing interview with far-right leader". news.com.au. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 
  48. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-07/far-right-opens-men-only-clubs-in-melbourne-and-sydney/9836458
  49. ^ "Romper Stomper reboot is a compelling investigation into Australia's extremist politics". ABC News. 30 December 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 

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