On Saturday up to 200 fascists made it to Dover for their advertised march against migrants. Antifascists substantially outnumbered them: although not enough to stop the nazis marching and holding a rally at a seafront roundabout, with the help of police. The day saw bloody clashes both in the streets of Dover and at Maidstone service station on the road there.
In Dover, the counter-protest organised by Kent Anti Racist Network (fakebook page) alongside the Antifascist Network involved an early town centre rally, attended by Labour politician Diane Abbott. Antifascists then attempted to block the fascist route from their advertised meet-up point at Dover Priory train station.
The fascists assembled, giving Hitler salutes and waving a multi-cultural mix of British union jacks and German 3rd Reich flags. Bricks and bottles flew, followed by hand to hand fighting as the police lines broke. However, riot cops were then able to regain control of the situation using vans and dogs, and pushed the march ahead. In the end, around 100 fascists gathered by the seafront for drunken speeches baying for refugees’ blood, while some others skulked in little gangs around town.
Pic: final fascist rally seen from above.
Our side was short of five coachloads of antifascists from London who decided to make a stop at Maidstone service station on the way down. A coach of neonazis also halted at the same time and place, and a scrap ensued. Some heads and coaches got smashed, apparently including a tour bus of Russian schoolkids targeted by the nazis. Police arrived and held everyone in place for six hours as they “investigated”. There were ten arrests at Maidstone (largely nazis we understand); one nazi scrawled a swastika in his own blood on a coach, and police seized a stash of knives and other weapons from the fascist coach.
It’s worth remembering that the numbers of fascists on this demo was much lower than just a few years ago when the EDL could get out 1000 and more. On the other hand, it’s true that the level of violence was relatively high compared to most recent UK demos. Many of the fascists involved were of the openly Nazi variety, groups such as Combat 18 and National Action alongside the reincarnated National Front (NF). The gloves were off, they came equipped and well up for bloodshed.
Of course, talk of “violence” is very much relative. We are still some way from seeing the kind of organised fascist force that is now becoming an everyday reality even in much of western europe, from Athens to Stockholm to a few miles across the channel in Calais. With the tide of anti-migrant hatred rising, most probably we ain’t seen nothing yet. This is the time we are living, and no one will deal with it except us getting organised and taking the fight back to them.
This Saturday, another fascist march is planned in Birmingham. This will be the launch of a UK offshoot of the German racist front Pegida, headed up by former English Defence League (EDL) frontman Tommy Robinson. The march has been banned from Birmingham city centre, and will be held on the outskirts: meeting at Birmingham International train station for a mile-long walk to a car park. Midlands Anti-Fascists have called a counter-demo to block the march; while, in a customary show of irrelevance, some liberal anti-racists will hold a rally far away in the town centre.
Pegida UK seeks to present itself as a non-nazi group that just doesn’t like muslims. It has called on the BNP and NF to stay away, and says it will march in silence without sieg-heiling or racist chants. This is much the same line the EDL used to take. It gives a veneer of respectability that allows their more mainstream backers and allies to stay onside, but of course never actually stops others in the fascist ranks from going on the rampage.