Report of opposition to Fascist gigs around Blackpool’s Rebellion festival

12 08 2014

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re-blogged from Blackpool Anti-Fascists

Follow on @antifascist45

For a big punk/Oi! fan like myself the Rebellion Punk Festival that takes place in August every year in my home town is a much looked forward to event. An opportunity for me to enjoy some great bands and spend my time in the company of a few thousand punks and skinheads from all over the UK, Europe and beyond.

As an anti-fascist I’ve always been concerned by the presence of a small minority of extreme right wing boneheads who frequent the festival. Perhaps due to so little opposition to the fascists, in the last few years, the problem has got worse with White Power fringe gigs taking place at venues away from the Winter Gardens and a small increase in the amount of boneheads blatantly displaying T-shirts with Nazi bands or right wing slogans on at the festival itself and around the town. It seems to go largely unnoticed to most people and compared to the amount of T-shirts visible with left wing and Anarchist sentiments on, it almost pales into insignificance. However, this year, as in recent years, people have come under attack with both verbal abuse and physical violence by the boneheads.

Despite an attempt to raise awareness of the problem on social media, lots of objections to the planned ‘Real Rebellion’ gig  (including an on-line petition) and the management being made fully aware of the nature of the event the club were happy to go ahead and host it

So this years Nazi knees up took place as planned at the Talbot Club. The same venue that the BNP have held their national conference for the last two years. This time around though the fascists faced considerably more resistance than in previous years

The Rose and Crown pub was the redirection point for the boneheads and it was the base for many of them, particularly on the Saturday. Under most circumstances the fash stand out like a sore thumb but it was harder to ascertain how many were present due to the amount of skinheads around. I’d say there was around 60 at the pub

Flyer handed out at the Rose and Crown redirection point

Flyer handed out at the Rose and Crown redirection point

Like in the festival itself it was disconcerting to see fascists rubbing shoulders with people with St.Pauli etc T-shirts on in the pub. After 1pm they started to move up to the Talbot Club intermittently in groups of 3 and 4, not looking at all confident and wow, what an ugly looking bunch they were. Not many seemed to be under the age of their late 40’s.

On one of my scouting missions around the festival and town, at around 6pm I noticed a young punk near to the Gardens who had a home made placard with “Antifa demo 8pm…come bash the fash!”. As the gig at the Talbot was finishing at 8pm, myself and some other local activists had also agreed to meet around that time in the festival to report any developments and see how many of the boneheads would be turning up. A few did show but most returned to the Rose and Crown. Again in small groups but this time much the worse for wear through excess alcohol.

A group of militant punks, along with some others staged a spontaneous demo under the Antifa flag. I could tell by the movements of the police that something was happening on Birley Street, the road leading down the side of the Rose and Crown. As I reached the top of the street around 35 Antifa came running back up after presumably engaging in fighting with the fascists and, trying to avoid the police, they headed back into the festival crowd. Some fash were in pursuit, throwing bottles and sieg heiling. They didn’t seem too keen on coming all the way up the street and were stopped by 4 police officers with batons drawn and used.

I went back to the festival and the rest of the evening was spent looking out for each other and making it uncomfortable for some of those sporting fascist bands T-shirts. Some were pointed out to security, who by this time, like some of the festival goers had become more aware of the situation. Some were then told to leave and others left of their own accord, sick, no doubt, of the amount of verbal abuse they were getting.

The fascists will claim a victory for the weekend and yes their gig went ahead. However, there’s no doubt they faced more opposition than they ever have before. By the end of the weekend a lot more of the Rebellion crowd, security (both at the festival and local pubs) and venues had more awareness of the issue.

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Another planned event over the festival weekend took place at the Victory Pub but according to reports it was badly attended on the Saturday and from what I saw didn’t go ahead on the Sunday, by which time it seemed a lot of the boneheads had left the town.

In my view the responsibility for the incidents and trouble around Blackpool lies squarely with Jade Griffiths, organiser of the fringe gig and the owners of the Talbot Club for hosting it.

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To those punks at Rebellion airing the “just as bad as each other” viewpoint after the short outbreak of disorder on the Saturday. It shouldn’t need to be said but it wasn’t anti-fascists going round attacking innocent individuals or verbally abusing people with racist and homophobic abuse but it seems normal behaviour for the cowardly,bullying fascists.

It is a tiny, tiny minority of boneheads intent on using the Rebellion Festival as a cover to come to Blackpool to stir up trouble but if left unopposed, it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured or killed. Some peoples weekend have once again been ruined and anti-fascists must get better organised or this situation will continue. There are many different ways to help to oppose these White Power events. We need to continue working together.

On a personal level, it was pleasing to see other punks/skins who were as aware of the fascist threat to our scene, taking the initiative and trying hard to counteract their presence. Thinking it through there were many positives throughout the weekend. There is a new generation of anti-fascists well versed in the concept of Antifa, something which the fash don’t seem to have amongst their ageing ranks.

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SJ


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