Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weyman Bennett arrested on anti-fascist demo

Weyman Bennett, the joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism (UAF), was arrested this weekend in Bolton along with dozens of other anti-Nazi protesters. John Millington reports in the Morning Star that "Around 1,500 UAF members had descended on Bolton to oppose an EDL rally in the city's Victoria Square" where they were confronted by a police force determined to target UAF activists.

The BBC footage shows protesters shouting "shame on you" at the police as they pull demonstrators out of the crowd and at one point seize a dangerous looking Peace flag which they disarm by snapping its pole in the cause of justice and order.

It states that the police made 74 arrests and sent two UAF supporters to hospital with head injuries. Protesters were described by the police as coming with the "sole intention of committing disorder", which for anyone who knows the UAF is simply not credible.

The English Defence League (EDL) had organised an anti-Islam rally in Bolton with the sole intention of inflaming tensions between our communities. The anti-fascist protesters were absolutely right to ensure that they could not get away with this, even though they understood that the police and the far-right would be less than welcoming.

However, that does not excuse the behaviour of the police who, as this picture from the Daily Mail shows, like to choke young people who don't fancy seeing their fellow citizens scapegoated.

The Mail is surprisingly very supportive of the UAF who interviewed "Second World War veteran Bertie Lois, 89, who lives in Farnworth, Bolton, protested with the UAF. He said: 'I fought the Second World War against these Nazis. What did I fight for if we let them [march]? The EDL are the enemy. I would say to them 'you are the guys we fought for, what are you doing?'"

That question could equally be applied to the police. We can at least hope that the war veteran that the police knocked over (footage here) was alright.

A few other places not already mentioned: Dave Osler, Rivers Stream, Mancunian Green, Ian Bone, Permanent Revolution... Expose the BNP, Counter-fire, Third Estate, feel free to let me know of others I should know about.


Benjamin Solah said...

I've been following this, and whilst I'm not surprised, surely the obvious defence of the EDL makes the cops look bad?

Or are there media types that defend their actions?

Green Gordon said...

I thought the UAF were well in with the police...? A stern wake-up call, perhaps?

Raphael said...

Is it true that the UAF was trying to march towards the EDL protesters?

Yes, or no? If the answer is Yes, what should have done the police? Let them go and let the UAF fight with the EDL in the streets of Bolton?

These images are a victory for the EDL and while the police may not have done its job properly (well spotted on the attack and apparent destruction of a peace flag and pole - how ridiculous!), we have to recognize that it is a hard job. We also have to recognize that the current strategy of how we deal with the EDL and BNP is a failure and we have to do some hard thinking on how to build an effective response to the far right.

On another note, it is very depressing to see the EDL harnessing the conflict in the Middle East as a political tool in their demonization of Muslims in the UK (Israel flags in the EDL demo).

Jim Jepps said...

BS: the media almost always follows the police line on these things - although interesting there have certainly been some media outlets that have been critical of the police here, although the EDL rarely get mentioned.

Raphael: I've read quite a few eye witness accounts now and it looks like the police were determined to arrest him before he even showed up, told him when he arrived he was likely to be arested and then they arrested him.

At the stage he was arrested the EDL weren't even there in force. So he wasn't arrested for anything he had done, but for who he was.

If there was pushing and shoving, this was a response to the police snatch squads, so it's difficult to know how things would have panned out if the police had taken a different approach.

The EDL certainly see the event as a success and the police as their friends (on this occasion)

Blog Master said...

Weyman needs to make a few phone calls to his friends and supporters in the Tories, Labour and big business. He must be really irate at what happened.
The UAF have an "up for it" group that are interested in appearing like revolutionaries, whilst enjoying suburban bliss once they get back.

The British Govt. it seems is pulling back on the reins. With an election coming up, they do not want to further alienate the working class by having groups like the UAF run amok.