- Category: Fighting Oppression
- Published on Tuesday, 8 April 2014
- Written by Rich T
April 5th marked this year’s White Pride Day, an annual event where white separatists, ultranationalists and neo-Nazis come together to drink, shout and promote their racist bigotry. For the past few years the UK location for this event has been the Welsh city of Swansea with this area becoming a stronghold for the re-emerging National Front (NF).
The days leading up to this year’s event, running under the White Pride Worldwide banner, were marred by misinformation. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) an organisation which has been at the centre of broad left anti-fascism for the past ten years, were not only not to be seen on the day, but even cancelled their counter-demonstration under the mistaken belief that since the NF had refused either of the rallying points offered to them by the police, the Nazi demonstration would not go ahead. The cancellation came despite warnings from anti-fascist activists posting on the Swansea UAF Facebook page urging people to still come out as they rightly foresaw that the NF demonstration would still take place. The danger of cancelling the demo and declaring “victory” proved to be real - people who would have been out on the streets of Swansea chose to stay at home believing the demo was off.
Luckily not all had taken the day so lightly. Around 100 anti-fascists from groups ranging from the Socialist Party to Antifa as well as unaffiliated members of the local community came down to Castle Square to make clear that fascists are not welcome in Swansea. This view however was not one shared by the local constabulary, nor by several local watering holes. For the NF and their friends, the day started in Yates’s bar on the corner of Castle Square as they knocked back the lager and jeered at the assembling counter-demo. Before long the excitement got too much for one bonehead, who began proudly waving his white power flag before being told by police to put it away. Once drinks had been downed, the 40-50 fascists out to protest were escorted up to near the old castle for their demonstration, where they listened to a mixture of speeches about how proud they were to be white and how hard it is with all the oppression white people apparently suffer on the basis of their skin colour. The Nazis punctuated the tedium by singing racist songs and hurling abuse at the ‘commie scum’ that made up the counter-protest.
Amongst the crowd were a number of white power flags, a Scottish flag, a Yorkshire flag and a flag bearing the symbol of Greek fascist party Golden Dawn. As the NF began to leave the demo zone a scuffle broke out during which one of the white power flags was liberated from its bonehead owner, an incident that saw its captor spend the next four hours in a cell, but luckily leave without charge. During this incident a second arrest was made after an anti-fascist made contact with one of the bonehead demonstrators only to be told “You can’t hit me, I’m an undercover police officer!” Although one NF member found himself in handcuffs, this was only a temporary measure while they waited for calm (during which time he stood laughing with the police) before being let go. From here the fascists returned to drinking; heading for Ice Bar on Swansea’s main bar crawl, taking their hot air down the aptly named Wind Street.
Despite refusing to accept either protest location offered by South Wales Police, the NF had full facilitation from the police the entire day. When fascists receive this help from the state it only serves to build their confidence. “I personally witnessed them shouting at a Muslim couple, who had joined the anti-fascist demonstration,” Al Brown of South Wales Anti-Fascist Action (SWAFA) told radical news website SchNEWS, “They called the man a "paki" as police officers looked on. The cops did nothing to try to stop the abuse, and wouldn't listen to the man's wife when she tried to complain about it.”
In a similar incident a BME man was subjected to verbal and physical abuse by an NF member outside Ice Bar and was told by police that should calm down. Across the road in the Adelphi I witnessed another NF member give a Nazi salute as he and four other went to join their fellow boneheads. After Ice Bar, the NF were escorted up to another bar - Static on Kingsway, where anti-fascists kept watch behind a police cordon. A phone blockade was organised and the bar's management in Bristol responded by travelling to Swansea in order to have the racist crowd removed. The NF were then quickly marched by police to the station and made to get on a train.
“South Wales Anti-Fascist Action had a 30-strong bloc and we opposed them every step of the way. It seemed like some kind of pathetic racist pub crawl facilitated by the police, who seemed content to turn a blind eye to all the harassment the NF were causing to Swansea residents. Officers could even be seen exchanging handshakes with NF supporters outside Static. It's really troubling that they would fraternise in this way with people who were shouting racist insults and threats of violence during the day,” said Al Brown, “I don't think Unite Against Fascism can take any credit at all for the counter-demonstration on Saturday. They took the fascists' bait and called off their demo, then ignored other groups who had assurances it was still happening. But SWAFA, Swansea Trades Council and a lot of interested local residents went ahead without them. We want to thank everyone who took part, whatever their background, because we know that true strength lies in diversity.”
Unite Against Fascism have since put out a statement telling of their disgust at the state facilitating the Nazis’ demo, congratulating those who did turn out to see them off and interestingly, despite not being present, still feeling the need to cook the numbers. The statement also finished by promising that regardless of what is said by police or council next year they shall hold a march through Swansea. Let’s support that call and make sure UAF keeps its promise.
This article can also be found on the Ignite Magazine blog.