Riot squad officers and mounted police have kept apart two rival groups protesting at either end of Sydney’s Martin Place, as tensions spilled over between pro-diversity supporters and the police.
The pro-diversity supporters were there to oppose another rally by Reclaim Australia supporters but ended up clashing with police instead.
Crowds aligned with the Refugee Action Coalition pushed police along Macquarie St from Martin Place, knocking batons from police belts before officers forced them back.
About 250 people, including parents with young children on their shoulders, chanted pro-diversity and pro-demonstration slogans.
“Next time we are going to make sure we have the numbers to demonstrate no matter what police say,” one man called over a loudspeaker.
“See you next time in Cronulla.”
Protester Craig Batty told AAP police were partly to blame for the violence.
“I think that sometimes the police are overstretched and their dynamic crowd control leaves a little bit to be desired,” he said.
“I personally am annoyed by people deliberately being confrontational at rallies in order to get the sort of response they want, and that works for both sides.”
At a rival rally at the opposite end of Martin Place, Reclaim Australia protesters held two minutes’ silence – broken by calls of `Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ – for victims of terrorism worldwide.
“What is the point in our dedicated Australian soldiers going to wars overseas and losing lives to keep our Australian values …when our government don’t respect the sacrifice they’re making,” Reclaim Australia speaker Clare Smith said.
At least one person was arrested after allegedly graffitiing a memorial, police said.