Southampton has a very proud history of coming together to make sure any visiting fascists and racists are sent home packing (usually never to return). In 1937, the Echo described “exciting scenes” when Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, tried to speak at a public rally in the Common. A 10,000+ local crowd descended on the common to boo, catcall and chant at him. He didn’t get more than 15 minutes in before someone tried to climb up the ladder he was standing on to try and pull him off. Rumor has it someone even ripped his trousers off! Police ended up forming a cordon around him to keep him apart from angry locals, who came out on mass to prevent his message of hate being shared. He was trapped behind the police cordon until eventually a way was cleared for him to escape to safety. With the local crowd hot on his tails, he was placed in a tram for his own safety- although the windows got smashed and he had to be driven away prompto.
Whilst many of us aren’t anywhere near old enough to have been around then, we can learn a lot from examples like these. This is how fascists and racists have been successfully stopped from spreading their toxic, hate filled, and divisive message.
This rest of this blog will talk about a few attempted mobilizations of the far right in the last year and how they were successfully opposed by local networks of people coming together in unity. We hope it will inspire you and give us all confidence to turn out on mass together this coming Saturday (July 2nd) when the neo nazi ‘South Coast Resistance’ are planning on popping to town.
In August 2015 hundreds of local Liverpudlians joined Anti-Fascist Network (AFN) calls for a counter mobilisation against the ‘White Man March’ put on by Neo Nazi group National Action and the North West Infidels (who now plan to turn up here on Saturday). The people of Liverpool wouldn’t have it, they came together on mass to block, disrupt and shut down the march which ended up being cancelled. It was a wonderful victory for militant anti-fascism and a total humiliation for the fascists – they didn’t even manage to leave the train station. The result was the AFN and Liverpool people marching together to where the Fascists were hiding out (the Wetherspoons at the station) before them getting put in police vans and taken out of the city. Followed by a victory march for antifascists.
These victories were very significant for Liverpool (Much like the signings of Lovern, Clyne, Liellana and Mane! Only digs we promise) for the same reason it was important for locals to mobilise against it in the first place – and why we too must mobilise in Southampton. For most it might seem quite unthinkable that in 2016 actual out-and-out, card carrying, tattooed and flag waving Nazi’s have the confidence to try and march through major multi-ethnic, diverse city centres on a Saturday Lunchtime. But we know that in recent years a Pandora’s Box of extreme nationalism and racism has been opened through the rise and fall of the EDL along with a growing atmosphere of fear, hate and bigotry that has come with UKIP and Britain First types.
Southampton and Liverpool are both richly diverse port cities and, like Sotonites and Liverpudlians have done so in the past, it is so important that we too come out on mass to prevent these nasty nazi’s from walking confidently around our city. A growth in confidence for them means a rise in violence on our streets, a growth in their numbers and an even bigger and nastier problem to face sometime in the future.
Secondly, Dover and the Kent Anti-Racism Network (KARN)
KARN formed after the South East Alliance (wish we had a link but their facebook pages keep getting banned for race hate) visited in Dover in September. AFN members and around 40 locals gathered to oppose this fascist mobilisation. The counter demonstrators did amazingly to hold their ground against the violent intent of this vicious alliance of neo nazi, nationalist and racist groups, who threw chains, bricks and bottles at them. The police watched on, without responding to or stopping the South East Alliance’s use of violence in any way. After this, local people decided that the only way to see these horrible racists off for good was to build a bigger, unified mobilisation consisting of anyone who wanted to fight racism together under one banner, and so KARN was born.
When the South East Alliance announced that they would have another go in Dover on Jan 30th, KARN faced a massive challenge to make sure that these groups would not be victorious- they knew that these racists would keep on coming to Dover to use the town as a battle ground for their horrible violence and hateful ideology unless they were met by a strong opposition. KARN is a mixed group, consisting of a variety of different independent groups and individuals who each hold different political affiliations and use different anti-racist tactics. There is a role for all of them within KARN- they stand strongly and united together under one banner; that they all oppose racism and fascism.
On Jan 30th ‘the battle of Dover’, hundreds of anti-racists gathered in the town square, in spite of some coaches being held up on the way and not making it. Counter demonstrators were able to march on mass to block the fascist’s route through the town. [For a more detailed account of the day and KARN see: https://kentantiracismnetwork.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/the-battle-for-dover-september-2015-may-2016/]
Since then, the far right have attempted a few more gatherings in Dover- none have been as big as the 30th. Recently, they attempted a two day weekender of ‘pride and passion’ along with a Nazi blood and Honour gig. They only managed to get 23 of them to turn up on the Saturday, had to hold their gig miles away and they didn’t even show up for the Sunday.
Other great examples of community organizing in the last few years include Brighton, Berkshire and Bristol.
KARN recently posted “We should never forget that holding our ground on 30 January forced the fascists into making tactical errors. Had we not been there, we would still see the same number, if not more on the streets of Dover and elsewhere. Everyone who was there can rightly claim credit for reducing their ranks.”
Freedom of speech does not mean the freedom to spout messages of hate and abuse openly, in public spaces, without expecting the rightful show of disgust and shame from fellow people. The victories of local and national networks of anti-racists coming together over the last few years have been hugely important in reducing the strength and confidence of these groups, and blocking their message of hate from growing.
However, we cannot be complacent about the continued threat of extreme racism, nationalism and fascism. After the EU referendum results, the far right feels vindicated in their extreme ideologies and this has been shown in the huge rise in hate crime (by over 57%) in the last week. We strongly believe that Southampton can claim a huge victory on Saturday, as hundreds of us gather together and take to the South Coast Resistance (Pie and Mash Squad,) North West Infidels and whichever of their mates they can drag along on the day. Let’s send them a united message that those and those like them have never and will never will be welcome in our city.
Love, rage and Solidarity from Southampton Antifascists.