“Trouble spread to Bold Street bar after gang set upon anti-fascists heading to a fundraising gig
Seven right-wing thugs who attacked a Liverpool City Centre anti-fascist meeting were jailed after admitting charges of violent disorder.
The men, who were either members of or associated with groups including the National Front, the English Defence Force or North West Infidels punched and kicked people heading for a fundraising gig at the News From Nowhere Bookshop on July 6 last year.
CCTV footage shown to Liverpool Crown Court showed the men, led by 25-year-old Liam Pinkham, running across Bold Street and attacking a smaller group walking past the Cafe Tabac bar and restaurant.
The attackers, some of whom were wearing masks, punched and kicked their victims who were pursued into the Tabac where the violence continued, sending tables and chairs flying.
Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said: “It would appear that the motivation for this violent disorder was polarised political opinions and personal enmity. The attacking group shared right-wing beliefs and the victims anti-fascist.”Witnesses described seeing the group hanging around outside the nearby Sainsbury’s store and thought they were about to raid it before they went to the Tabac and started “beating people.”
Those inside described three “punks” outnumbered two to one being beaten to the floor and one suffering a golf ball sized lump to his head.
Liam Pinkham, who was at the front of the attack having crossed the road to remonstrate with a man he had previous dealings with, was found a short time later cowering on top of a multi-story car park with another attacker Stephen Dumont, then aged just 16.
Matthew Coates, 22, was found on Roscoe Street with a mask and St George’s flag in his pocket and said: “OK you’ve got me” while Shane Calvert, 31, was found near Lime Street out of breath with bloody knuckles.
Pinkham, of Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead; Dumont, 18, of Rosewood Close, Netherley; Coates, of Albert Road, Southport; Michael Kearns, of Dovecote Avenue, Dovecote and Nathan Smith, 21, of North Road, St Helens, all pleaded guilty to violent disorder – though Smith failed to turn up to the hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest.Two men from Blackburn Peter Hawley, of Ailsa Road, and Shane Calvert, 31, of Shetland Avenue, admitted the same charge.
Some of the men admitted being members of the English Defence League whereas others denied membership though they offered “frank” political opinions.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones, said: “All of you were either members of, or have associations with, groups which happen to hold right-wing views or positions whether it be the National Front, English Defence Force or North West Infidels. “It is that common factor which brought you all together on Bold Street that evening because you had been made aware there was to be some form of anti-fascist meeting.
“It is quite clear you all went there to Bold Street with the view to disrupting or preventing that meeting taking place even if you did not intend direct violence beforehand.
“Of course in such circumstances involving two groups holding diametrically opposed views there is a clear risk of confrontation as was shown by the CCTV in court.
“Although the violence was short lived it was in full view of passers-by, initially out on the street, and it spread into a nearby cafe causing chairs and tables to be overturned and glasses to be smashed. Calvert, Pinkham, Kearns and Smith were in the thick of it.”
He jailed Pinkham, who had previously threatened to burn down News From Nowhere while making abusive comments about Anne Frank, for 17 months.
Dumont was sent to a young offenders institution for a total of nine months after he was also found guilty at trial of public order offences after shouting racist taunts through a megaphone at a mosque in Ashton Under Lyne, Greater Manchester.
Coates was locked up for ten months; Michael Kearns, 39, for 14 months; Peter Hawley, 53, for 13 months, and Shane Calvert was given14 months behind bars.
As they were led to the cells their supporters, who packed the public gallery, shouted: “No justice” and applauded them.”
Police have made an arrest after it was alleged a man was racially abused and then assaulted in Cheltenham.
A 22-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and assault.
He has been bailed to return to the police station on November 7.
Officers investigating are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.
A spokeswoman said: “At around 2.45pm yesterday, officers were called to the High Street, outside Poundland, to reports that a man had shouted a racist insult at a 34-year-old local man before throwing an open can of drink at him and assaulting him.
“The victim was not seriously injured.
“Officers are urging anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them by calling Gloucestershire Police on 101, quoting incident number 237 of September 24.”
[Yesterday], the world learned of the stabbing death of Greek antifascist hiphop artist Pavlos Fissas, who performed under the name MC Killah P, at the hands of thugs affiliated with the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. His death is just the most recent since the party’s rise in recent years, but may have tipped a country teetering on the brink of civil war into incredibly volatile territory. In response to the murder, antifascists have already clashed with police across the country, and Golden Dawn offices have been attacked.
I managed to reach anarchist contacts in Athens following a march from the site of Fissas’s murder that resulted in clashes with police, and connected with one activist long enough to get an interview. Given the reality of Golden Dawn infiltration of the Greek police, and other very grave realities on the ground, I’ve withheld my contact’s name. Below is our conversation.
So, what happened tonight?
Tonight there was a big demonstration, beginning where Pavlos was killed. It split in two directions, and some of the protesters marched toward the local offices of Golden Dawn, where they clashed with police protecting the building. The other group, which we were part of and was much larger, marched toward the police station. Obviously, we also encountered cops. There were some people in front of them – might’ve been police, might’ve been Golden dawn; it’s often hard to distinguish them – who tried to provoke us.
They were chanting Golden Dawn slogans and calling us “cunts”. Our group was a mixed bunch, but largely anarchists and leftists. The confrontation turned into a chase, with the cops pursuing us. Some of us split off down narrow streets, a lot of us were beaten and tear-gassed. There were 23 arrests, and I’m told at least one serious injury, but I don’t know details. I did see an ambulance, at one point. About 30 people – including some journalists – were let into a building by a woman trying to shield them from police violence. They’re still there, surrounded. Some of us are in online communication with them, at the moment.
How large was the initial demonstration?
About 10,000 people. Could be more, could be less. But definitely more than 9,000, which is what the radio is reporting, right now.
At this point what’s known about the murder?
Pavlos was with some friends watching a soccer game. Some reports say he made some comments about Golden Dawn, others say his attackers simply recognized him, since he was a musician and involved in antifascist activity in the neighborhood.
Beyond his music you mean?
Yeah. Neighborhood organizing. There’s information suggesting Roupakias [the killer, now in police custody] circulated in the criminal underground – drug dealing, prostitution, and so on – and that he was paid by Golden Dawn to carry out the attack. This actually happens all the time; Golden Dawn routinely hires people from criminal networks to carry out these sorts of things. So, when Roupakias showed up, he approached Pavlos and asked him the name of the street they were on – then he and the other fascists began chasing Pavlos and his friend. When they caught him, Roupakias stabbed him in the heart, making an L-shape. He was apparently very precise. It’s likely this was not his first time doing it.
So, Golden Dawn is effectively sub-contracting attacks?
Yeah. This is pretty widely known, and has been for some time. I realize it sounds like a bit of conspiracy-theory, but it’s 100% known that they pay people for these “jobs”. Roupakias is one of them.
So, there are other hits they’ve hired people to carry out…
Yeah. Most of the immigrants that have been attacked or murdered by Golden Dawn; the 18 year old Pakistani that was recently killed, for example. They have a sort of contract with an athletic company, which allows them to kind of “sponsor” thugs, by floating them clothing, weights, and so on. Their basic job is to go into neighborhoods and attack immigrants. The arrests you all probably heard about, with the antifascist motorcycle patrols? Those were in response to this sort of thing. It’s a critical detail, in that this is quite dangerous. Golden Dawn has been rather smart in recruiting underground criminal networks. They have the guns, the drugs, the resources.
It appears Golden Dawn is sort of counting on this outsourcing dynamic for a sort of plausible deniability. They initially tried to say Roupakias wasn’t affiliated with them.
Yes. After the murder, someone called his wife and told her to dispose of anything that had to do with Golden Dawn. So, in the morning, Kasidaris was arguing that they don’t know him, but the cops found his membership card and other stuff in the garbage outside his home. Initially, he admitted that he was going to Golden Dawn offices pretty regularly – he said 5 to 10 times a month, but that he wasn’t a member. Obviously, that’s proven to be a lie.
What’s the feeling on the ground, right now? Is the State responding at all?
Supposedly. New Democracy [the Right party] made a statement that angered a lot of people. They basically asked why everyone is upset about Golden Dawn violence, but never violence from Syriza [left-wing party].
But Syriza isn’t engaged in street-level violence, is it?
No. I mean, they’re in the streets all the time, but they’re not taking part in clashes or anything like that. But New Democracy wants to argue that they’re just as outlaw and outside the constitution as Golden Dawn, anyway. They’ve been saying this since the 2008 uprising; that Syriza is supporting anarchists, is secretly behind clashes that happen, and so on. They were even accused of terrorism. Needless to say, this is utterly at odds with reality. They’re just trying to downplay Golden Dawn’s violence, by whatever means. They even tried to say Pavlos’s murder was the result of a soccer rivalry, not anything political.
When we were hanging out earlier this year, you said you were worried that tensions in Athens were escalating to a point at which violence was becoming the standard, immediate response to even tiny provocations – on both sides. With the recent Golden Dawn attacks on communists, are you worried that street-level violence could slide into civil war?
That’s what we’ve been talking about, all day, actually. It’s one of our biggest concerns. Things are so fluid, right now. We don’t entirely know if we need to begin planning for that, as an outcome. Golden Dawn pursues power any way they can. It’s an extreme scenario to think about, but not really any more extreme than our current situation would’ve sounded to us five years ago.
Yeah, at the beginning of the crisis. Golden Dawn was nowhere then. We were attacked by them in street fights as far back as 2006, and when we told people, they’d ask “Who’s Golden Dawn?” Now they have chapters in every neighborhood. Have you heard about what happened in Meligalas 2 or 3 days ago?
I don’t think so.
They staged a memorial where their Nazi “ancestors” were killed during the Civil War. They seem to like bringing up that history. So do the cops. When they arrest an anarchist or communist, they say things like “We’re going to kill you, like we did back then.” It’s a reference point for both sides, really.
What are anarchists doing in response at the moment?
We’ve been disrupting Golden Dawn activity, like their “for Greeks only” food distribution. We distributed flyers at one recently saying “We don’t need charity. We need dignity and solidarity.” We’re also building our own solidarity structures. For example, there’s now a medical clinic operating out of Exarchaeia; it opened last week.
So there are projects underway building solidarity with immigrant communities?
Yes. For example, there is a new group that deals with the expansion of immigrant detention centers in Greece. They’ve been doing great work. Generally, what we’re trying to do is approach things from the principle of dignity, and these projects embody that. A year ago, we were in more violent terrain, and there was more of a preoccupation with attacking fascists. I think this murder may have shifted us into another phase. It’s hard to say what will happen. It’s possible a lot of people will want to attack Golden Dawn. There’ve already been attacks on their offices all over the country. I don’t know if that will become more personal; if people will turn to attacking fascists in the streets, beyond just attacking their offices.
It’s also hard to predict how voters who’ve supported Golden Dawn will respond to this event. Will they finally be ashamed? Will they feel like they loaded the proverbial gun?
Is there really much chance of that?
I believe so, actually. If not, we’re at real risk of losing our humanity. We’re already well on our way, inasmuch as a politician from Syriza was on TV today saying that Pavlos represents the first casualty of Golden Dawn. And he said that straight-faced, with no shame, as though the immigrants who’ve been murdered don’t count; as though Pavlos is somehow more of a person. And that sentiment is fairly widespread. I think a lot of people will be “shocked” today, as though this most recent event is some sort of a revelation.
Like a white body is somehow more jarring to the collective conscience.
Exactly. Why weren’t people equally shocked when Golden Dawn murdered a Pakistani biking home from work? The only response came from anarchists and leftists. But maybe now people will finally listen. Maybe it’ll be like when Alexis Grigoropoulos was murdered in 2008. Police kill people all the time; that uprising happened because Alexis was someone people felt connected to.
And you think Pavlos’s visibility as a musician might provoke that same response?
Possibly. I don’t want to diminish anyone’s anger. I just find this “shock” a little repulsive, I think. A musician? A white male? It’s easier for people to identify with him than with nameless immigrants, but they’ve been killed by fascists, killed in detention centers, killed in police offices, and not seen nearly the antifascist response in the streets that Pavlos’s murder has.
Joshua Stephens is a board member with the Institute for Anarchist Studies, and has been active in anti-capitalist and international solidarity movements across the last two decades. He writes on antiauthoritarian social movements for various outlets, splitting his time between the Mediterranean and Brooklyn, NY.
Magdeburg is a city in the east of Germany: there is disruption created by an annual parade of fascists claiming to commemorate the casualties of an allied air strike that happened during the Second World War.
The emphasis they place on the nature of these casualties as victims could have the effect of distracting people’s attention from the atrocities performed by the Nazis themselves during the war, and from their role as the instigators of the conflict.
The Metropolitan Police arrested over 280 anti-fascist activists, local community members, and passersby in East London on 7 September, as up to 700 English Defence League supporters were allowed to march over Tower Bridge and rally at Aldgate without encountering any mass opposition.
A large community demonstration was restricted to Altab Ali Park, well out of sight of the EDL’s march route and rally point. A bloc of around 600 within the demonstration, coordinated by the Anti-Fascist Network (AFN), attempted to hold a march to get within sight of the EDL’s route and present a visible opposition, which was then blocked and kettled by police. Despite police attacks the front of the AFN bloc did manage to get within sight of the EDL march, meaning the only political opposition the racists saw on the day was a direct result of the AFN mobilisation.
Sarah Smith from London Anti-Fascists said:
“The number of people who joined the Anti-Fascist Network bloc on the day shows that there is a real mood for forms of anti-fascism that go beyond static rallies where mainstream politicians and religious leaders spout liberal platitudes. The 600 people who attempted to march with AFN on Saturday shows that a moderate, ‘respectable’ anti-fascism based on deference to the state and the political status quo is no longer the only show in town.”
Anti-fascists, independent legal observers, and people who were just passing by were detained on the street for over six hours before the police announced their intention to make mass arrests. Arrestees were taken to police stations on the outer extremities of London — including Colindale, Sutton, and elsewhere — mostly under the pretext that they had committed an offence under the Public Order Act. Their alleged ‘crime’ was to march down a street the police didn’t want them to march down.
Some arrestees were held for up to 15 hours in total. Were it not for the work of arrestee support groups, many of those detained would have been thrown out of police stations in the middle of the night on the outskirts of London with little way of getting home. Most have now been released with highly restrictive bail conditions preventing them from opposing the EDL and other racist groups.
Tony Dixon from the Anti-Fascist Network said:
“These mass arrests, following a similar operation at an anti-BNP demonstration in May, show how the state is using political policing to criminalise protest and intimidate people out of taking political action. Only the tamest, most moderate forms of protest are sanctioned; anything else is met with police violence, kettling, and mass arrests.”
Val Swain of the Network for Police Monitoring (NetPol), added:
“Carrying out mass arrests on any demonstration is an excessive and draconian measure. In this case it was clearly not necessary to prevent disorder – many, if not most of the arrests were carried out after the EDL had left the area.
“In this case the police have taken 286 sets of names, addresses, fingerprints and dna. It has been a highly effective data gathering exercise. They have also imposed bail conditions preventing all of those arrested from participating in future protests – even though they have not been charged, let alone convicted of any offence. The police have had a successful operation to disrupt, deter and prevent anti-fascist protest.”
Notes for editors:
– The Anti-Fascist Network is a network of independent anti-fascists and anti-racist groups from across Britain, fighting the far right on the basis of direct action and working-class politics.
The Met Police made up to 300 arrests (07/09/13) in order to allow the EDL to march across Tower Bridge and into the outskirts of Tower Hamlets.
The day started well enough with hundreds answering the Anti -Fascist Network‘s call to stop the EDL. The AFN responding to earlier threats by the Met to march the league into the heart of Tower Hamlets had announced their meeting point as Altab Ali park – effectively as a side rally to the Unite against Fascism shindig.
The UAF affair went down much as expected – a platform with speakers firmly within the designated protest zone. In the end they produced nearly fifty speakers (all the usual suspects and local worthies). It also has to be said that the UAF really only started banging the drum for Tower Hamlets when it was clear that a police ban on an EDL march into Tower Hamlets proper would be enforced.
Meanwhile the AFN quietly assembled towards the back of the park and when the moment came around 500 surged out behind the banners and to the cops’ surprise marched east in order to outflank them and exploit a few undefended side streets. Many locals joined in with the break away.
Swinging round, the block made for Tower Bridge and tried to make its way through the hastily improvised police cordons. Some were kettled or turned back but one group of around a hundred made it to within sight of the EDL’s rally point on Tower Bridge. Determined attempts to break through were met with the threat of horses and dogs. In the end the exchange between anti-fascists and EDL was limited to shouting abuse.
Other anti-fascists operated in small groups along the route of the EDL’s march. After the huge build up and with all the benefits of the Lee Rigby incident the league only numbered around 600 on the day. One SchNEWS reporter who walked alongside them said “They seemed pretty despondent, there was very little shouting or chanting”.
At the EDL’s rally point at Aldgate station one brave couple, who’d evaded police detection, unfurled a banner with the pithy slogan “Racists fuck off”. This provoked a hail of bottles from the enraged EDL. The banner wielders were then nicked for ‘breach of the peace’. There were also (unconfirmed) reports that non-aligned anti-fascists got into a building site to the south of the rally and hurled bricks into the crowd.
The EDL were permitted a half hour rally, during which Tommy Robinson announced a series of charity walks in the Tower Hamlets area, an obvious move in light of the astounding success of the last one. They were then marched directly back along their route and embarked on their buses. A handful remained drinking under the watchful eyes of cops in pubs near the bridge. No EDL supporters managed any kind of visible presence in Tower Hamlets on the day.
As the news of the EDL’s departure came through the UAF staged a ‘victory march’ along Whitechapel High St. The celebration of this ‘victory’ while nearly two hundred comrades were being held in police kettles and being prepared for mass arrest was condemned by at least one AFN activist as a “fucking disgrace”.
Police brought commandeered buses to the two kettles and began loading prisoners into them to be distributed to police stations across London. Arrest support was organised by Green and Black Cross across the capital, with activists waiting outside police stations for released detainees. As far as SchNEWS is aware virtually nobody has been charged with an offence or even interviewed. They have all been bailed away from ‘demonstrations by the BNP, EDL or EVF inside the M25’. These are the very same bail conditions handed out to activists who confronted the BNP’s attempted march on the Cenotaph . Clearly the Met at least are worried about the growing presence of militant anti-fascists on the streets.
Were you arrested? If you haven’t already then it’s probably worth your while to contact Green and Black Cross who are collating information and organising legal support.
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