Some chancers from the social media wing of the far-right decided they would attempt to cash-in on the recent Pegida bubble. Here’s what happened on their first National rally in the UK.
Words and pictures by our man in the field, DM.
Pegida UK got off to a bad start by arranging their first demo in Newcastle when the Toon were at home. The cops had their excuse to ban the march – unless Pegida held it at 9.30 in the morning – so it was demoted to a static rally at 11.00 on Saturday 28th February.
By 9.30 the police presence in Newcastle was already significant as preparations were made to ‘facilitate’ the far-right gathering.
After realising the planned BNP march from Monument to the rally site wasn’t going to happen, I walked down to the Bigg Market to find – with just 20…
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Once again Berwick put up a magnificent display of solidarity in opposing the racist Scottish Defence League and their fascist friends the North East Infidels marching in our streets last Saturday.
After our boisterous but good natured and orderly march up and down the town we held a rally at Marygate. The theme was “whose streets? our streets”, “whose town? our town”, “whose walls?” and so on.
In other words, the town belongs to us, not to shipped in, masked up fascists and racists who came from across Scotland and England to whip up racism in Berwick.
Our final rally at the Guildhall had Jim Herbert introduce a series of speakers: local trades unionists; Berwick Trades Union Council; Unite Against Fascism Scotland; Newcastle “People’s Assembly”; Berwick Migrant Support Group; and local people of no particular affiliation.
The speakers addressed many of the concerns of local people. The trades union council in particular has had some criticism on how best to deal with the fascists. Some have argued that it’s best to ignore them and they’ll eventually go away. And that they are only coming here to seek confrontation.
Many of our speakers, some of whom with a vast experience on this, explained that this is profoundly mistaken. History demonstrates that where they are ignored they grow, they gain confidence and locals inclined to these insidious views, on seeing no opposition, join them.
One of the reasons overtly fascist and racist parties have failed in the UK is precisely because of local opposition initiated by the trades union movement.
Berwick Trades Union Council and the RMT union branch are proud of standing in this fine tradition. To keep Berwick safe, diverse and welcoming “good people”, as Albert Einstein explained, have to do something to oppose evil.
The SDL and NEI have dedicated their hateful existence to attacking Asian people and Muslims. Islamophobia – bigotry against Muslims is as unacceptable as any other form of racism. It tries to divide us by scapegoating one community, just as the Nazis did with Jewish people in the 1930s.
It is vital that we continue to organise, to unite, to make sure they are not allowed to spread their racist and Islamophobic hatred and violence in our community. We have to continue to oppose fascists when they march.
Messages of support were read out, including an anti-fascist message from Sir Alan Beith.
Phil Thompson, Secretary of Berwick & District TUC
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 12 July 2014
Berwick will be the location of another pair of demonstrations this summer as far-right groups announced intentions to march through the town.
Far-right groups the Scottish Defence League and the North East Infidels plan to travel to Berwick in order to hold a protest on July 5.
At a meeting last Friday Berwick Trades Union Council along with local anti-fascist campaigners discussed the two groups’ planned protest.
A statement was released expressing the council’s “revulsion and deep concern at the prospect of these fascist thugs once again invading our community with their messages of hate and division.
“In February last year Berwick put up a tremendous display of solidarity in opposing the SDL and EDL. The fascists on the other hand chanted racist slogans and caused mayhem in the town centre.”
The statement went on to call for a local response, which will be in the form of a counter demonstration in the same vein as last year.
“We call on all those who supported the anti- fascist demonstration last year to do the same this year but this time to make it even bigger and stronger. Let’s tell these racist thugs they are not welcome in our peaceful and inclusive community. We have an organising meeting on Friday June 20 open to all those groups and individuals in our community who want to show a collective opposition to the fascists.”
The visiting groups are describing their march as a Ban the Burka event, and are planning to wear balaclavas as a sign of protest.
The Berwick United Against Fascism group describe the SDL as a “racist group with an established record of mounting protests which regularly feature racist chanting, placards and Nazi salutes.”
The NEI, meanwhile, are deescribed as a “more openly racist and fascist than the EDL, splitting from it when its leader allowed Jews to join the EDL.”
They are led by Warren Faulkner, who describes himself as “the Islamic terminator and leftist beateruperer.”
There were five SDL arrests during the afternoon, and widespread discontent with the massive cost of policing the demonstrations after traffic through town was stopped.
In a letter to the ‘Advertiser’, resident Michael Stewart complained: “Who is footing the bill for the massive police presence in the town to control this unruly mob? I have a feeling it will be the taxpayer, so that helps to explain why the police precept element of the council tax is rising this year!”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 16 June 2014
Up to 400 English Defence League supporters joined forces today (Saturday 17 May 2014) to march through Newcastle.
The event started at 1pm in the Bigg Market, snaked along Collingwood Street, on to Westgate Road, along St James’ Boulevard, on to Barrack Road and into Leazes Park.
The procession was led to the beating of a drum and chants by its members.
Supporters draped in Union Jacks and St George’s flags were hemmed in by lines of police.
The far-right group arrived at Leazes Park to the sounds of a DJ in the sweltering heat.
And from the bandstand they listened to a string of speakers.
Police wearing high visibility jackets flanked the crowds and in the park they carried riot helmets in case of any trouble.
Joining in with the march were people of all ages, from pensioners to mums with their toddler children.
Wendy Angel, from Newcastle, who has been an EDL member since 2011, was an event speaker. She said: “There are more than 300 people here today. It’s great to get this support.”
Ian Crossland, from Sheffield, who is EDL’s South Yorkshire regional organiser, said: “We have had fantastic support. This is just a regional demo and over 300 have turned up. Last week we had a national demo in Rotherham and 700 attended there. We want to get our message across to the general public.”
> And your message is what exactly ?
Hundreds of police lined the streets were the march took place. Across the city officers could also be seen.
Anti-fascist group Newcastle Unites made a counter protest as they marched through the centre. The two groups were kept apart as Newcastle Unites started their march at the City Hall before going along John Dobson Street, on to New Bridge Street, along Blackett Street and ended up at the Monument where they held speeches.
Once the EDL were in Leazes Park, Newcastle Unites members marched along Gallowgate to Barrack Road where they held a static protest.
The EDL then marched back to the Bigg Market where the event finished.
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Coun Nick Forbes, said: “The extremist views of groups like the English Defence League have no place in a modern, welcoming city like Newcastle where everyone regardless of colour, creed or ethnicity is treated with respect.
“Their presence here is a huge concern to businesses and communities alike.”
Chief Supt Laura Young, Newcastle Area Commander, said: “As expected it’s been a busy day in Newcastle and I’d like to thank members of the public visiting the city centre and those who work and live here for their patience and cooperation today.
“There have been a number of events across the city, all of which have passed safely and with minimum disruption. All marches passed off smoothly and there have been no arrests or reported incidents of disorder during any of the events.
“Newcastle is a vibrant city and we get thousands of people coming in every weekend to enjoy everything the city has to offer and I’m pleased they felt able to do so today.
“We are expecting a normal busy Saturday night and officers will be on patrol as usual across the city. The city has a lively night life and this is something we are well used to policing. “
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 17 May 2014