The Socialist 24 August 2001
Fighting For Decent Pay And Union Rights
Police Mobilise To Protect Fascist 'Festival'
THE REAL role of the capitalist state apparatus was exposed in Mid Wales on Saturday 11 August, when hundreds of riot police from Merseyside and West Mercia joined local police from Dyfed-Powys to protect the BNP. Their weekend 'Red, White and Blue festival' was held at a campsite by Welshpool, near to the Llanerfyl farm of BNP leader Nick Griffin.
The massive police presence prevented around 150 anti-fascist demonstrators from getting anywhere near the BNP campsite. Our coach from Swansea was stopped ten miles from Welshpool and taken into a car park surrounded by dozens of police.
Each demonstrator was taken off the coach individually then searched and questioned. At one stage there were a dozen police officers with sniffer dogs searching every inch of the coach.
After an hour we were escorted to Welshpool with police on the coach and police vans at the front and rear. We joined a small demonstration of around 150 anti-fascists who were penned into a small green by mounted police with van loads of riot police on stand by.
It is apparent that the state are perfecting their police control tactics to use against protesters in the future. This is a lesson for all demonstrators, including trade unionists who will be subjected to similar tactics.
One demonstrator was restricted under section 14 from attending or organising any events other than the police-controlled protest in Welshpool; Section 14 was introduced as part of the 1986 Public Order act in the wake of the miners' strike. Mass mobilisation and intimidation by the police can only be counteracted by the mass mobilisation and organisation of the working class.
The police can easily stop a couple of coaches and harass a few hundred protesters but they can be made impotent by thousands of demonstrators determined to stop the fascists spreading their poison.
This was supposed to have been a national mobilisation of anti-fascists to stop the BNP camp going ahead. Julie Waterson, from the ANL, who had herself been locked up for 14 hours, claimed the demo was a victory for the anti-fascists at the rally.
Although there was a layer of people present who were not part of an organisation and were interested in becoming involved in the YRE, many demonstrators were disappointed with the turnout and frustrated that we were forced to remain 15 miles from the BNP camp and not even able to march through Welshpool.
The next time the BNP hold a national event the organisation of any protest should be co-ordinated through all the anti-fascist/anti-racist groups along with socialist organisations, political parties, trade unions and other groups to ensure a mass turnout that cannot be stopped by the police.
Nick Griffin claimed 500 attended the BNP camp and mocked the poor turnout from the anti-fascists. In reality there were at most 150 wet and despondent BNP campers. Despite the protest's isolation we pressurised the police into turning around 100 fascists away from the festival because they did not have the required passes.
The anti-fascists received a tremendous welcome and response from local people; we can build on this to ensure that in the future Griffin and his fascists have no welcome in the hillsides of Mid Wales.
In this issue