Press statement by Brighton Unite Against Fascism
Police Failures and Public Unity in Brighton
Saturday saw a small group of far right EDL supporters descend on Brighton for what they describe as a ‘social’.
Brighton and Hove UAF together with other anti-fascist and anti-racist campaigners and activists in our city decided prior to this event not to publicise it, as the stated intent of the EDL members taking part was not to publicly march , fly flags or engage in activity that would cause concern to the wider public.
We felt to give publicity to it could change its nature, and help attract attention to an event which the organisers themselves had only promoted through a handful of tweets and blog entries.
Instead we supported the Uncut street party which took place in the town centre, ensuring we had numbers available to react if there was any trouble.
Unfortunately the police did not take the same approach, sending out PR about the EDL event and alarming the public.
Whereas we had estimated the attendance at the event would be between 20 and, at very most, 100, the police told local businesses to expect hundreds. In the event we believe the number was fewer than 60.
The strong opposition the far-right has faced from the people of Brighton in the past has left them unable to organise properly in the City.
With 800 officers available on Saturday it might be expected that the EDL group would be properly controlled by the police, however they failed to do this. The ‘social’ was organised by a sub-group of the EDL calling themselves Casuals United. This group has a history of violence, connected with football hooliganism, in the case of some of its leading figures going back to the 70’s and involvement with the National Front.
Many anti-fascists decided to gather on the Steine having heard that the EDL had left the pub they had been drinking in and were re-grouping in St James’ Street.
Whilst EDL members positioned themselves in pubs - that felt unable to refuse them entry - in a part of the city where a group that is connected with hate-crimes could be of particular concern, the police focused on kettling and pushing around anti-racists.
The day ended with the police organising for this group to march through our city chanting and flying EDL flags, the kind of public display we had wanted to avoid, and was not needed. They were led to the station to ‘disperse’ but there seems to have been no attempt to ensure this meant actually leaving the city.
However due to the presence of anti-racists and anti-fascists, and members of the public who came when they heard what was happening, the EDL were followed and surrounded as they were led through town. Yet again they were left in no doubt that Brighton and Hove is not a city were their hate-filled organisation is welcome.
A Spokesperson for Brighton and Hove Unite Against Fascism said:
“We are extremely disappointed that the police let down the people of Brighton so badly on Saturday. The force’s obsession with targeting anti-fascists and anti-rascists resulted in number of genuinely dangerous hooligans running amok.
“Clearly there is a question of police priorities when a record number of 800 police officers are on our streets, and yet they failed to control a small group of violent far-right thugs.”
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