On Saturday 4th March we saw another fantastic example of grass roots community anti fascism when the Hitler loving Pie and Mash squad and various assorted racists and fascists from around the UK as well the South West Imbeciles descended on Bristol to “pay tribute” to local scumbag and football hooligan Kevin “Bunny” Crehan who died in prison in late 2016.
We’re no fans of the prison system but we were well aware of the fascist agenda behind the demonstration outside Bristol Crown Court and had no intention of letting a bunch of sieg heilers mobilize unopposed.
We felt that the fascists represented a threat to our Muslim communities in particular and the situation called for a strong Anti-fascist presence in the city. We met up with comrades and other groups such as the IWW as well good people who wanted to take a stand. Our call out had created a positive response and pretty soon we had mobilized well over a hundred people.
From an early stage in the day we noticed a heavy police presence, not unsurprising but we always find it hard to understand why the state is so determined to protect the rights of Neo Nazis and allow them to demonstrate and spread their poison when their only agenda is hate, division and violence.
We set off as a large group into the centre of Bristol to confront the Nazis and shut down their demonstration. As soon as we were close to Small Street and the crown court, we encountered a wall of cops as well as horses. Despite the police protecting the fascists as usual we made our voices heard and were pleased to see members of the public taking an interest in what was happening.
One entrance to the courts may have been locked down but we were pretty sure we could find a way around the cops and their horses. A large group of us headed round to the rear entrance of Small street letting Bristol know what we were here to oppose, and were quickly joined by the rest of our group.
The police had blocked off the second entrance to the street, but undeterred we headed to march down the main road to Small street moving quickly to try and stay one step ahead of the cops!
The resilience and determination of everyone involved on the day was second to none, from the anti fascist crews present to the general public it was inspiring to see no one prepared to give up at any point.
This really became apparent when we were again confronted by the police who became increasingly aggressive and mob handed in their approach attacking us with CS gas and using unnecessary amounts of force! Some of us even saw batons being drawn by cops on horses…
Determined not to be pushed back, we tried to force our way through the police lines towards the fascists demo and resisted the attempts by the cops to break our line with their riot foot soldiers. We’d overheard one cop say that he didn’t like protecting the Nazis. If that’s the case then maybe he should change his job and stop working for a system that does!
We finally decided to head back to the other side of the street and found ourselves for the first time getting close as we could to the fash. A riot van still blocked the entrance and we caught sight of the Nazis for the first time enjoying the protection of the police flying their flags and spouting their poison. It was frustrating for all of us but we were still determined not to give up.
At one point we had a brief verbal exchange with some of the fash, masked up and over confident and issuing threats from behind police lines. This isn’t something that’s new to us and it was clear the death of local wrongun ‘Bunny’ Crehan was just an excuse to spread their hate.
After their main demo had finished they decided to skulk off under protection of the cops. By this point the general public who weren’t with us had learnt of who they were and were just as angry as ourselves that Nazis had mobilized in our city.
We heard they were being escorted over a bridge near the city centre towards the train station (we’d learnt that groups from outside Bristol had headed down for the day) and decided to try and ‘head them off at the pass’
The cops by this point had decided to start deploying dogs as well as everything else they had thrown at us over the course of the day. From the looks on the handlers faces it was clear to us they were enjoying every minute of their brutality in defence of the far right! Some of us were attacked and bitten but despite the assault we still wouldn’t give up!
Things began to wind down after the Nazis headed off followed by a stream of abuse from the general public and were unsurprisingly quiet… when we regrouped after the events of the day it was refreshing to see that Bristol appeared to be fash free, proof that that only time fascists mobilize is when the state offers them their full protection.
From our point of view we wanted to shut down the demonstration all together.The concept of no platform is not to stamp on freedom of speech as some believe. It’s about not letting fascists organise and spread their message.
It’s really about making it clear that hate and intolerance and dangerous ideologies have no place in our society. It’s about community resistance to the far right and all they stand for. History has shown us what happens when we do nothing.
After the events of that weekend we feel there is a stronger than ever case for militant anti-fascism and now more than ever we need to keep up the fight. We’d like to thank everyone who joined us. You did us all proud. Bristol as always is Anti Fascist.