Barricades of Brighton: March for England run out of town

28 04 2014

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It rained on their parade, in more ways than one… A successful day for anti-fascists on Sunday saw the far-right March for England harassed, heckled and hounded out of Brighton during their annual humiliation by the sea.

The mystery is why they keep coming back…

Since 2008 the nationalist March for England have been coming annually to Brighton to parade their narrow-minded vision of Englishness through the streets of the town in ‘celebration’ of St George’s day. For the last four years they have been opposed by an ever-growing coalition of local anti-fascists and anti-racists who have recognised their ‘innocent patriotism’ as a not very good disguise covering their real agenda of extreme right nationalist politics, racism and xenophobia.

The March for England come to Brighton because for them it represents everything they despise – a tolerant, cosmopolitan, liberal town in which they have no foothold. Thus in their mind it has become transformed into a centre of “anti-English activities”.

They hate Brighton – Brighton hates them

In previous years they have attempted to maintain the fiction of the happy family St George’s Day parade, despite their own members undermining it with racist and homophobic abuse of locals. This year, they abandoned the pretence before they even began. All the publicity that went out in advance of the march emphasised that it was an opportunity to ‘bash the reds’ and ‘smash the antifa fuckers’. Unsurprisingly their march was even less diverse than previously, consisting almost entirely of middle-aged bald white men.

The other thing that was different this year was that the March for England has become part of the United British Patriots, an attempt to create a new rival to the dwindling English Defence League as a far-right street army. In the UBP the March for England are allied with a rag-bag collection of the dregs of the British far-right including Ulster Loyalism fetishists, fascist sympathisers and white supremacists. It was these charmless specimens who were hurriedly rushed out of Brighton yesterday, marking an ignominious end to their second outing as the UBP.

The walk of shame

On the day the MfE mustered about 100 marchers with some lurkers who never even went on the march. They were opposed by about 1500 anti-fascists. Their march route was shorter than ever this year – down to a mere 300 rain-sodden metres, following police decisions to shorten their march in order to keep some traffic flowing through key junctions and then an unexpected eleventh hour collapse of the seafront road right under their rallying point. This unfortunately happened two days too early thus preventing anti-fascists witnessing the cheering sight of the earth opening to swallow the assembled fascists.

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Last year the police attempted to bus in the fascist marchers, but this year plod went for allowing them to dribble down from the train station in small groups, coralling them in the Wetherspoons at the bottom of West St, and then moving them to the march start point.

Their march was heckled and shouted out and their ‘speeches’ drowned out by a solitary trombonist on a rooftop. A diverse crowd held signs and banners such as ‘Brighton embraces but we draw the line at racists’. Banners were unfurled from buildings along the route saying ‘Racists Go Home’ and showing a swastika being thrown in a dustbin. The parody EDL – the English Disco Lovers – had a soundsystem playing as they danced with umbrellas in the rain.

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After the ‘March’ for England had shuffled their way along the seafront they were again allowed to drift back up towards the train station. Anti-fascists lined the road to the station to give them a vocal send-off and then as the main crowd of the MfE were approaching the train station, several hundred anti-fascists built a barricade across Queens Road with a ‘No Pasaran’ banner hung along it to block their path.

There were running skirmishes and blows exchanged between fascists and anti-fascists across town throughout the day, in which the fascists came off the worse. Some of the fascists even foolishly heeded a call by far-right comedy ‘hooligans’ Casuals United to ‘dress like antifa’ in black hoodies and mingle with the antifascist crowd. They were remarkably unconvincing and swiftly found themselves discovered and ejected from the anti-fascist crowd.

Everywhere the fash went to try and drown their sorrows, anti-fascists were on top of them until the very last fascists had left the town and the whole town was clear of fash by 5pm. Anti-fascists regrouped in a couple of prominent city centre pubs for celebratory drinks in the now gloriously sunny early evening.

Legal matters…

Dedicated legal support activists waited for all those arrested at the police station, with food and drink for those released and transport home. As fascists were released they found they had no mates waiting for them and they were politely told to fuck off home and not come back again.

There were 14 anti-fascists arrested yesterday. If you witnessed any arrests or assaults then call the Stop MfE Legal support number on 07923 099339 or contact GBC Legal

Please do not post footage on the internet without thinking carefully about what it shows.

Meanwhile in Cardiff…

Yesterday in Cardiff, local anti-fascists also mobilised against a threatened ‘White Pride’ demonstration. There was a neo-Nazi White Pride demo in Swansea three weeks ago which boasted 40 boneheads. This time the fascists didn’t show up at all.

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The next AFN mobilisations are Rotherham on the 10th May and Newcastle on the 17th.

See you on the streets!


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