Scores of men dressed in balaclavas boarded a train in Sydney on Australia Day, leading to a police operation and several arrests after the train was terminated at North Sydney station.
NSW Police confirmed on Friday evening its operation had concluded, but it was continuing to investigate the incident. It said the group of about 61 people in disguises were carrying a number of items, including shields and a flag.
“On arrival, members of the public were directed to leave the train while officers boarded,” police said. Six people were arrested and were assisting police with inquiries at Chatswood Police Station. Two of them have been released and issued Rail infringement notices for offensive behaviour, along with 55 other men.
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Police also seized the items they were carrying.
Photos posted to social media on Friday afternoon showed the group, all dressed in black, and police on board the train.
Police were seen on the train on Friday. Credit: XA group of men dressed in balaclavas and holding Australian flags have boarded a train in Sydney, sparking a police operation. Credit: Supplied
It’s understood the group are members of the Nationalist Socialist Network, which the Australian Government has listed as a neo-Nazi extremist organisation.
A police officer was captured on video serving the group a move-on order from Australia Day events in the city of Sydney.
“I believe your presence in the Sydney City local government area poses a serious risk to public safety,” the officer said in the video. “This is based on your ideological links, including your associates, your previous attendance and ideologically motivated public order incidents, your criminal history of assaulting members of the public and your goal of intimidating and provoking people.”
The group later convened at St Peters Park, where they were met by police again. One of them was captured on video saying, “the police won’t let us celebrate Australia Day”.
The group convened at St Peters Park. Credit: 7NEWSA police officer was captured on video serving the group a ban from Australia Day events in the city of Sydney. Credit: Supplied
NSW Premier Chris Minn condemned the group’s actions. “There is absolutely no tolerance for this behaviour,” he said. “Normal people don’t celebrate Australia Day with a balaclava on. Due to great police work millions of Aussie were able to celebrate and come together without a potentially ugly confrontation.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin also addressed the incident. “It is shocking to see a gang of neo-Nazis roaming freely through our streets. The police were right to restrain them to prevent any possibility of violence,” Ryvchin said in a statement.