Posted by: Rich | April 24, 2012

A Geoff’s Eye View

“Up above the streets and houses, Geoffrey’s flying high!” – Below is another eye witness account from sunday written by one of our newer friends, Geoffrey – Portsmouth Anarchists very own Rainbow Bear!!! ha ha!

Brighton: March for England

This year’s March for England (MFE) was received by an impressive “welcoming committee” of hundreds of anti-fascists who had lined the route all the way from Brighton station to Victoria Gardens – or actually, originally from the station until the clock tower, but the march was diverted down Church Street before they had gotten very far.

Although BBC now reports that there were 140 people in the MFE, and 400 in the anti-fascist protest, the numbers I heard on the ground were 70 and 1,000 respectively. There was also a huge police presence, with some police vans marked as Kent and Hampshire police.

The weather was beautiful, even though the BBC had threatened showers all afternoon (shows how much they know, eh?), so the streets were full of shoppers and people sitting outside cafés. The march and the anti-fascist rally weren’t lost on them – would have been hard to miss given the insane number of police anyway.

Brighton being Brighton, people were very positive towards the antifas. On New Road there was a live band playing on the street while Church Street was a chaotic sea of antifascists, police and marchers for England, and I overheard a man saying to a friend “That’s Brighton for you – live music in one corner, an anti-fascist protest in another…” while a father was asking his daughter in a pram “So, this is your first protest, what do you reckon?”

Inside the protest it was a bit less jovial, although that was quite mixed as well – a young man with spikes on his jacket next to a man with a little girl sitting on his shoulders; a little old lady carrying a sign that said “Nazis are nasty” along side a young man in a Guy Fawkes mask.

The antifas were shouting “Whose streets? Our streets!”; at one point someone yelled “Get that animal off that horse!” (btw. I felt really sorry for the horses and the police dogs, with all those people pushing and yelling all around them – why is it necessary to subject animals to all that?), people shamed the police for protecting the fascists, and the MFE were generally being told exactly howunwelcome they were in Brighton.
Once past the Pavilion, the MFE were led to Victoria Gardens where an area had been fenced off for them. Then boredom ensued. Nothing was happening inside the fence, as far as I could tell. The antifas outside the fence were playing music and dancing around, all under the watchful cameras of the police. From time to time, someone would shout at the MFE “It’s nicer on this side of the fence!” or “What are you waiting for, master race? The end of times?”, but that was basically it until it was time for them to be escorted away. It was a massive kettle, and most people contented themselves with seeing the MFE off to shouts of “Don’t come back!”.

Various people on the far-right have said that they regard Brighton as a site of “anti-English activity” which is why they target it, and the MFE has been returning there every year since 2008. They keep saying that they’re neither racist nor EDL, but things slip though the cracks that suggest otherwise. It’s unclear whether the little crowd that marched on Sunday are really hardcore, righteous nationalists or just confident in the protection of the police.

I’ve seen criticism online directed at the antifas for “trying to shut people up for having opposing views”, which is missing the point entirely. We’re not seeking to drown them out for having a different opinion, but for having a racist one. A couple of years ago, anti-racists actually joined the MFE, but were heavily abused by the rest of the march for handing out a leaflet with the title “England For All”. The EDL keep letting it slip that the MFE is their event. It’s not just a happy family day out in celebration of St. George’s Day, but a hijacking of the English flag by a nationalistic and super-conformist organisation. That’s who we aim to drown out. History is too full of horrific examples of what happens if fascism goes unchecked for us not to.


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