By Khiara Elliott
A group of men named Soldiers of Odin (SOO) have taken it upon themselves to patrol the CBD streets, believing that more protection is needed.
Dressed in distinctive black jackets with their emblem – an image of Odin, the Norse god of war masked in an Australian flag – Soldiers of Odin have been patrolling areas within the CBD in response to the rising levels of crime, specifically targeting movements like the Apex gang.
It has been reported that SOO members patrol Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, the Bourke St Mall and outside train stations at night.
According to its Facebook page, SOO is officially sanctioned by the founder of the Finnish parent-group, Mike Ranta, who is reported online to be a white supremacist.
The page states it is not a racist group. It says it is “critical of immigration”.
“The government, it seems, is flooding our suburbs with uncivilised immigration. We need to be realists here, the current cultures and ethnicities in which our suburbs are being filled with is detrimental to the safety of our citizens and communities,” it says.
Sen-Sgt Adam Tanner of Melbourne East Police Station told CBD News police were aware of SOO’s presence, but suggested that policing was best left to the established authorities.
“I do not recommend people confront offenders as this places you at risk of harm,” he said. “Victoria Police members have extensive training which equips them with the skills and resources needed to respond to safety issues. We urge everyone to ring 000 if they are in danger or witness a crime.”
After an influx of media requests, SOO chose not to directly respond any further with media, instead releasing an official statement via its Facebook page that rejects any claims of racist activity.
The statement also requests that people not compare SOO divisions from other countries with the one here in Melbourne.
“We are a worldwide organisation, a worldwide voice of collective nations all with their own issues but also with a shared, common problem and all wanting the best for our individual countries and the communities we live in. However, please do not compare us,” it reads.
In another statement, SOO detailed it was against Islam, and: “the fact that it is okay to be proud to be black, proud to be Asian, proud to be homosexual or transgender, yet it is not acceptable and you are considered racist if you are proud to be Australian.”
Public posts such as these have prompted followers of the page to reply in support with graphics of Nazi propaganda. Another comment expressed irritation with the Victorian Government, labelling Premier Daniel Andrews a “lefty maggot”.
Other comments suggest that SOO is exactly what the city needs.
“Good on you guys, this is just what our communities need. Hope to see you spread far and wide. Keep yourselves safe while protecting others,” reads one.
“You are honest people wanting to see right done to those who deserve to be treated with respect and equality. Keep up the great work. You’re truly inspirational,” said another.
Despite common conception of SOO resembling a gang type movement, it does work towards benefitting the community.
Currently, SOO holds a weekly food drive for the homeless. When available, SOO says it also hands out previously collected blankets, clothing, shoes, camp mattresses and toiletries.
SOO also offers assistance to victims of domestic abuse, assistance it says “is not possibly an option or currently available by police or other organisations”.
Its plans to aid the community are continuing to expand, with the official statement detailing that SOO plans to work with sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder as well as Whiskey’s Wish Incorporated: a charity dedicated to the training of service dogs.