Two arrested after hundreds turn on LGBTQ protesters outside Mark ...
Two people have been charged by police after an angry confrontation between hundreds of people and LGBTQ protesters outside a church where One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham was speaking in Sydney’s south-west.
Footage shows a large group of mostly men confronting about 15 LGBTQ protesters outside St Michael’s Church in Belfield, where Latham held an event on Tuesday night.
Riot police were called in and surrounded the protesters for their protection. The protesters, from the group Community Action for Rainbow Rights, said they had gone to the church to protest peacefully before the incident turned violent.
Footage from the event shows a man being pushed to the ground and a large group surrounding him, as some in the crowd try to stop others storming over him.
Police said officers from the Campsie Police Area Command were called to the church about 5pm and, when they arrived, a number of glass bottles and other projectiles were thrown at them. The Public Order and Riot Squad and Operational Support Group joined to help to disperse the crowd.
A male constable was allegedly struck by a projectile and his hand was injured. He was taken to Canterbury Hospital in a stable condition.
Police also said a 38-year-old man was pushed to the ground and assaulted.
Police said a 34-year-old man was arrested and taken to Campsie Police Station where he was charged with encouraging the commission of crimes.
He was given conditional bail to appear before Bankstown Local Court on April 11.
A 41-year-old man was arrested and charged with common assault. He is due to appear before Bankstown Local Court on May 30.
Speaking on Nine’s 2GB on Wednesday, Latham said he made his way to the church from the back because protesters were blocking Margaret Road, and was later told about the violence.
“The police informed me that out the front, there had been chaotic scenes – the equivalent of a riot – where some of the parishioners took exception to the fact that access to their church was going to be blocked by these transgender protesters, and they took matters into their own hands, which was wrong,” he said.
Latham also denounced the protest group for blocking the road and said in a democracy he should be allowed to speak “in a church hall to concerned parents”.
“I think blocking roads and access to church is definitely wrong in that setting,” he said. “People like myself, a politician running for elected office, should be allowed to make his speech without that kind of action.”
Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said targeting the LGBTQ community during a state election is cruel and lazy politics and accused Latham of fuelling hate.
“Mark Latham is a disgusting human being and people who are considering voting for One Nation need to realise they are voting for an extremely hateful and dangerous individual who risks causing a great deal of damage to our state,” he said.
Greenwich said words and hate cause a great deal of damage, particularly when they’re targeted at vulnerable minority groups.
“It really is incumbent on political leaders to call this out and to show support for the LGBTIQ+ community,” he said.
LGBTQ activist group Community Action for Rainbow Rights tweeted that “a small peaceful” group of LGBTQ activists were attacked by “a mob 30 times their size”.
Speaking to Nine, a LGBTQ protester said they were surrounded and assaulted by the group. “We were in fear of our lives.”
As inquires into the incident continue, police urge anyone with information or mobile phone vision to contact Crime Stoppers on 1300 333 000.
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