There are concerns that membership numbers of extremist right wing groups in Perth are growing, following the appearance of an organised group representing the extreme right-wing ‘Proud Boys’ at an anti-lockdown protest in King’s Park.
The August 21 protest took place near the War Memorial, with around 1,000 people marching through the park, many carrying anti-vax and ‘freedom’ signs.
Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia president, Suresh Rajan says the proud boys are exploiting growing fears in the Perth community about economic instability and vaccination against COVID-19.
“It’s concerning from a number of perspectives we always knew that they did have a presence here and in the various disguises and we noticed that some of the old groups are now starting to fade away and the Proud Boys appear to have taken over.
“We also noticed that there has been a move generally right across the world where the neo-nazi white supremacists movement are now infiltrating into the vaccine hesitancy space because they’ve got a really captive audience there, ” he says.
Curtin University National Securities and Strategic Studies Associate Professor, Alexey Muraviev says there should be concern about radical elements in our society.
“They are populists and they want to act as populists and they are just going with any agenda that will allow them to grab people even though as far as I understand resistance to vaccination is not necessarily linked to any particular philosophical, ideological or racial motive, it’s something that just unites people that are skeptics about the whole process and that comes across as a cross-gender cross-race phenomenon,” he says.
Dr Muraviev says the best way for people to protect themselves from radical ideas is knowledge.
“People who are more receptive to radical ideas are the ones who are information ignorant, they are not looking for independent news they are not interested or don’t have time or don’t bother to go into in depth analysis of the reasons and the motives behind certain developments,” he says.