Patriot activist Neil Erikson is facing charges for
interrupting the second Friday Jummah Islamic Prayer at Federation Square in the Melbourne CBD held on April 12.
Before prayers began Erikson arrived and began shouting through a megaphone ‘Mohammad was a False Prophet’ ‘ Mohammad was a Terrorist’ and ‘Vote Fraser Anning’.
He was taken down the stairs away from the prayer area and detained Victoria Police and driven across town to Flemington. Erikson had been accompanied by his Cooks Convicts 2IC Ricky Turner who released a verbal tirade against the detaining officers. Richie Whelan was filming the encounter for Erikson’s Senator Slayer YouTube channel.
On Good Friday Erikson was questioned by Victoria Police at of all places Federation Square where they indicated they would be charging him with obstructing member of the clergy in discharge of his or her duties.
This is the same charge Erikson is facing for interrupting Fr Rod Bower’s mass at the Gosford Anglican Church in 2018. There is an outstanding arrest warrant in New South Wales for Erikson in relation to this charge.
Erikson informed his followers of this new pending charge in a livestream to his Senator Slayer channel. Despite him being charged in Victoria for the same offence of obstructing member of the clergy in discharge of his or her duties, there are a few key differences.
In Gosford Erikson interrupted a mass on private church land, Federation Square is a public place in Melbourne where you do not need the permission of a property owner to enter. The offence references clergy, which Erikson argues refers only to Christian Ministers.
The full outline of the offence in the CRIMES ACT 1900 – SECT 56 NSW is:
by threats or force prevents, or endeavours to prevent, any member of the clergy, or other person duly authorised in that behalf, from officiating in a place of divine worship, or from the performance of his or her duty in the lawful burial of the dead in a burial-place, or
strikes, or offers any violence to, any member of the clergy, or minister engaged in, or to the knowledge of the offender about to engage in, any of the duties aforesaid, or going to perform the same,
shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.
Given that Federation Square is not a place of divine worship, the Islamic call to prayer did not involve lawful burial of the dead in a burial-place and Erikson was not violent then an offence does not appear to have taken place, other than the breach of the peace that Erikson was detained for.
If Erikson was found guilty of this offence it would mean that any member of the clergy from any religion could preach in public and no member of public could exercise their right to free speech to challenge their views.
What is to occur if a minister of religion said in public that homosexuals are destined for hell? Would a gay person be committing an offence if they challenged the Minister on this and said he was wrong? You see the logical implication of this charge.
Erikson ended his live video by suggesting political interference from above and that only right wingers are charged for offences and not allowed free speech in Victoria.
He highlighted that Antifa protesters outside an Australian Christian Lobby meeting at Scots’ Church in Melbourne in 2016 were not charged with obstructing clergy even though they blocked the entrance. They were also not charged with assaulting Erikson despite him having a blooded face.
He alleged that Premier Daniel Andrews has ordered that vegan protestors in Melbourne have their charges dropped though there is no proof either has occurred.
We shall await what the final Victoria Police decision is on this matter.