This past weekend Bristol Antifascists went on a triple action trip to London and Dover. First up was a visit to a Clapton FC football game which has in recent months developed a solid anti-fascist following which, it has been threatened repeatedly by members of Casuals United and the Pie & Mash Squad. Needless to say their repeated attempts at disrupting games and organising to collectively complain to the FA about political flags and flares has failed, both on the streets and the terraces. We travelled with a goodie bag of gifts from the Easton Cowgirls & Cowboys to solidify the cider soaked hand of friendship between Easton and Clapton and had a great day after a speed eating contest of Pie and Beans with the London Antifascists.
Next up was a public benefit gig with repeat offender Ryan Harvey (who’d played a benefit show for Bristol Antifascists the weekend previously). London Antifascists had recently had to cancel a benefit gig after fascist pressure on a venue had caused it to be pulled, so tonight at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC) a big group of supporters turned up to support London and enjoy a great evening of folk music. Right on time a second car full of Bristol arrived. With a solid crew outside both taking the opportunity to meet friends from around the world and keep an eye out, a great evening was had by all, which passed without incident. After some complex sleeping space negotiations, we travelled back to a friends and all settled down for a well needed rest, gently lulled to sleep by the deep breathing of our comrades.
We travelled early to Dover the next day to confront a march called by the United British Patriots (soon to attempt to march in Bristol) & National Front and after linking up with other Anti Fascists Network groups, moved to the pub the fash had decided to meet at. (You can read the AFN call-out to oppose the ‘secure the borders’ demo here). On arrival it was soon very obvious that we had caught them off guard, as we moved quickly into the road in front of the pub and a few things became very clear, very quickly. The turn out for the ‘Support the Truckers’ march was pitiful, the pub they had retreated into was closed and they had really not done their homework. Sunken faces faced a confrontational and well organised mob of anti fascists. The Kent police began a day of ‘protest facilitation’ and Paul Pitt’s sad face said it all – their careful strategising had got them backed into a empty pub garden of a closed pub/backpackers with police once again protecting them.
As AFN members repelled their witty and well thought out monologues, a strange parade of melancholic characters arrived. They had it all – fascists who looked like they’d arrived at their own funeral, a single handed attempt at a Harry Potter block, Skeletor, crusader’s taking a break, 1970’s caricatures and in general a motley crew of bigots and politically misguided fancy dress attempts. After waiting as long as possible for their numbers to increase from around a pathetic 20-30, the march attempted to head off and was immediately blocked. With the police realising that they could not force the march through, the fascists were abruptly about turned and marched the other way up the street. Anti Fascists quickly changed our tactics and marched the fascists up the road, with them waiting for the police to protect them whenever they became vulnerable.
The AFN block throughout the day worked really well at making collective decisions quickly, and we then quickly changed strategy and went on a little jog around the block and this was the pattern for the next hour or so. Wherever the fascists attempted to march there was concerted and determined blocking, forcing them off the road and onto the promenade. They were confronted and harassed all the way in a walk of shame, and whenever they attempted to physically confront us were quickly “self defence slapped” as they so succinctly put it. Choice moments were taken, improvised methods of attack were used and such chants as “that was more like being run than a march!” and “can you hear the fascists sing? no!!” were constantly heard. After some nifty cross sea wall urban running, we reached the main roundabout at the port which had been the march’s destination. As the police facilitated the fascists posing for a pathetic photo of 36 fascists and an assortment of celtic crosses, National Front flags and posturing we re-grouped and prepared to march them out of town. All the way back to the half empty car park the march was surrounded by anti fascists and police and a suitable metaphor for the whole fascist day was found at the end. In a cunning move, a transit van with 3 fash in the front drove around the block and past the remaining AFN groups making sure they had left. As they slowly drove past shouting abuse and honking their horn, AFN members attacked the vehicle, which then stopped and attempted to reverse aggressively into anti fascists. However, by this point the lightening quick reactions of the Kent constabulary had resulted in police being behind the van, in effect attempting to run over them! As chaos briefly ensued the keys from the van were liberated, the driver was arrested and “shit day” was written on the back. The fascists had to get out and walk home with the knowledge that they had come to Dover, got blocked into a small closed pub garden, ran to the port under attack and run back.
Truly a shit day for them.
We found this one of the best actions we’ve been involved in and were really impressed by the truly solid block. With only one arrest at the end of the day, numerous de-arrests and good tactical decisions made together we left Dover with confidence in each other, the network and the struggle.