March for England (MfE) will be exercising their right to March in Brighton tomorrow, Sunday April 20.
There will be a counter demonstration staged by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) to register opposition to the presence of fascists in the City.
Last years march was disrupted by counter demonstrators including thousands of local Brighton people who turned out to say that fascists were not welcome in Brighton and Hove. There were three arrests, the most serious on an accusation of throwing a milk carton, but all charges were abandoned as there was no evidence to support them.
This is the sixth year the MfE have marched in Brighton. Organisers from the MfE claim they are campaigning for St Georges Day to be designated as a bank holiday.
March for England is an organisation from the far right with an anti Asian agenda. Its leader Dave Smeyton recently spoke at a rally alongside members of the fascist group, the English Defence League (EDL).
The MfE website and Facebook page makes no mention of a campaign for a national holiday, but MfE itself has recently posted an image on their Facebook page featuring Nazi imagery and a National Front slogan, ‘Odin’s Rune’ which was originally used by the armed division of Hitler’s Nazi Party, and latterly by far right groups world-wide.
MfE and UAF have been in discussions with Sussex Police who have decided not to allow the MfE to march through the city centre as in previous years.
MfE protestors will be bused from Brighton Station to march on the seafront between Brighton Pier and Middle Street and returned to Brighton Station after the march in buses.
The police called a meeting at twenty four hours notice on Tuesday, April 16 at John Street Police station to tell community chairs and representatives of their plans. Those present included the elected chairs of the LGBT Community Safety Forum, The Gay Business Forum, The St James Street Pub Watch and the St James Street Action Group, the deputy leader of the city council Phelim McCafferty and Cllr for Queens Park ward, Geoffrey Bowden.
Asked why they had not consulted with the communities of interest before the decision was made to move the march to the centre of tourist activity on the sea front and close to the gay village, the police said they were “not required to consult on the matter”.
The police confirmed that the reason they had moved the march to the seafront was that their risk assessment said it was the “safest place for the march to take place”.
They confirmed that there would be 1,000 police officers on hand to police the protest
Over the last three years opposition to MfE marching in the City has escalated. Last year there was a tiny minority of protestors intent on violent confrontation and as a result there was disorder with missiles thrown at officers and those involved in the procession.
Due to this confrontation the procession was unable to complete its agreed route.
A statement issue by Sussex Police this week included the following:
“The policing of this event has become a significant challenge for the City. We have a duty to balance the rights of people to carry out a peaceful protest, whether in support of the march or opposed to it, allowing those to go about their normal business in the city, whilst always prioritising public safety through preventing crime and disorder.
“Unlawful behaviour or that which goes beyond what could be considered reasonable in terms of peaceful protest will not be tolerated. This can put people at risk who want to exercise their important right to peacefully protest or go about their normal business, enjoying the City in a safe and secure environment.
“There will be a significant number of police resources, from a number of different police areas, to minimise disruption as far as possible and offer reassurance to those who may be affected.
“It is also important that those attending the event work with us and comply with directions or other restrictions which we will need to give to keep people safe. This will help to ensure officers can focus their attention on the minority of those who may be intent on causing trouble. Due to the risk of disorder on the day we are likely to be stopping and searching more people and have pre-authorised powers to do this under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
“The policing style I have directed from the outset is early engagement with the public, including protestors and any identified groups or assemblies, with clear, calm and professional communication to explain what is acceptable and what is not in relation to behaviour and protest activity.
“I expect a friendly, fair but firm policing approach which will provide every opportunity for those involved in or affected by this event to work with us in ensuring a safe and peaceful day.
“We have published in advance the route of the procession, the locations where people are able to peacefully protest and where there will be restrictions to allow every opportunity for those who want to take part in the event to co-operate with the police.
“This will be published on the Sussex Police Website.
“It is highly likely that some disruption will take place on the day and we are working with organisers and our partners within the City to reduce this risk. The agreed route along the seafront, which was recommended by us, will minimise, as far as possible, disruption to the City and provides a safe operating area for the public, including participants, and the police.
“To ensure the safety of all those involved there will be a road closure in place on the A259 coast road from Brighton Pier to West Street from around 10am. Traffic, including pedestrians, from the access roads leading to this section of the A259 will also be redirected. The closure will apply for the duration of the march. Alternative diversion routes will also be in place to reduce the amount of traffic in the area during this period.”
Madeira Drive will also be closed as a result of the planned Jaguar Car Raleigh.
A road closure will be in place between the Aquarium roundabout and the Grand Junction Road (A259) junction with West Street from 10am until 3pm. The march will not commence before 12.30pm and will conclude no later than 2.30pm.
A spokesperson for Unite Against Fascism (UAF), said:
“The most effective defence against this attack on our community is to stand together and show that we will not be divided. The strength of opposition the racists faced last year left them downcast, they very nearly didn’t return. Their show of strength, 140 people, looked pretty weak when over 1000 showed up to heckle them. All it takes to ensure they do not come back is for the largest possible number of Brightonians to come out on Sunday and shout them out of town.”
Full statements issued by Sussex Police and Unite Against Fascism can be downloaded from the LGBT Community Safety Forum website.
To read: CLICK HERE:
For more information about UAF: CLICK HERE:
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