Their protest was one of several the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid organized. It's part of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The case involves speech, public solidarity, and right to protest peacefully in a free society. Expressing Palestinian, anti-imperial, and social justice support publicly risks retaliation in many Western countries and elsewhere.
Police violence, arrests, and false accusations follow. Melbourne protesters were brutalized. One woman had her shoulder dislocated. Another said:
"I was dragged behind police lines. Once they grabbed me and started dragging me, I went limp and dropped to the ground."
"As I was being carried through the corridors of the loading dock, I lost consciousness because one of the police had me in a choke hold. I am not sure how long I was out, probably a few minutes. I woke up on the loading dock floor and heard the police saying I was 'out.' "
Pro-Israeli supporters held counter-demonstrations. The fascist/Islamophic Australian Protection Party (APP) and Australian Defense League (ADL) held their own in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
One APP leader held a sign, saying: "I'm more interested in the purer form of fascism." It included other extremist comments as well.
Palestinian activists called it no accident that neo-Nazis and pro-Israeli zealots united against the Melbourne 19. They said success in Australian politics depends on unswerving loyalty to Israel and cracking down hard on opposition groups.
The case involves collusion among pro-Israeli groups, police, the shopping center management where MB's store is located, and the Victorian government.
New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies head Vic Alhadeff discussed tactics used.
He said they're "not limited to engagement with civil society and politicians, patronage of boycotted outlets, cooperation with police, shop owners and centre managers, and exposure of the motives behind the BDS movement."
Strategy he said should be "speak softly" but carry "a big stick." Police provide big ones but don't "speak softly."
During a July 27, 2011 bail hearing, Victoria police admitted that confrontation was decided before protesters demonstrated. It followed meetings with Zionist organizations, the local government, shopping center management, and Max Brenner.
Palestinian solidarity is criminalized. So is BDS activism. Anyone supporting right over wrong is vulnerable. Doing it publicly may bring fines and jail. It also subjects activists to police brutality. Whether in Melbourne, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, or Jerusalem, criticizing Israel is dangerous.
Militarized police lash out violently. In Australia, America Europe, and elsewhere, special units have been trained. Designations include Special Operations Groups (SOGs). Critical Incident Response teams are part of the Victorian Police Force Response Unit Command.