Brighton – June 2nd
“You asked for it”– “you sowed the wind, now you’ll reap the whirlwind” , “no women and kids this time” “We are coming back to Brighton IN NUMBERS and you dirty lefty child abusing cunts will be dealt with” – These were just a handful of the online threats made by EDL supporters in the wake of the humiliation of EDL splinter group March for England on April 22nd.
The EDL’s football hooligan division, Casuals United, had been boasting on their blog that they would be returning to Brighton in numbers and strength to take revenge on local people. Six weeks previously, hundreds of locals stood side by side against right wing racists who had tried, and failed, to parade around the city under the banner of ‘March for England’.
Weirdly, Casuals United named 2nd June the day for their action, but decided to keep the details quiet. They were obviously caught between the stools of either keeping the whole thing completely offline and having tiny numbers or advertising it and having to deal with police and anti-fascists. In the end they plumped for calling the whole thing a ‘social’, as if coming to Brighton, the South Coast’s biggest tourist town, and buying a pint while in disguise was an achievement of some sort.
Brighton anti-fascists decided against an extensive counter-mobilisation on the grounds that the Casuals weren’t going to pull the numbers and a big call out would simply be crying wolf on their behalf.
Nonetheless on the Saturday around a hundred anti-fascist activists assembled in Brighton’s main shopping area, Churchill Square. This was to support the Brighton Uncut Great Brighton Street Party and the regular Palestine Solidarity campaign stall. They anticipated the arrival of some kind of flash mob as the fash gathered in Hove and around Palace Pier. (Well, most of them – two were nicked at Hove train station for cocaine possession). However all we saw were EDL spotters, at least two using their wives as cover. Police numbers were huge so the spotters were just politely encouraged to fuck off.
By 3pm the stalls and street party were winding down – co-incidentally this was exactly as we received reports that the fash had stopped skulking in pubs and in an astounding display of both Dutch and Colombian courage had sallied out of the pubs into Kemptown* to throw bangers around and make homophobic remarks. It was presumably at this point that well-known local EDLer Stephen ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ Sands got nicked for letting off fireworks – something we all no doubt enjoyed when we were fourteen but possibly a little immature at 44.
*the thriving heart of Brighton’s gay community™
In response anti-fascists set off for an impromptu march down North Street, towards Kemptown behind a large ‘NO FASCISM’ banner. After dealing with a police roadblock and attempted kettle most of the anti-fascist crowd made it down to the Old Steine where the first face-to-face confrontations with the Casuals occurred. Mostly due to the numbers of cops these were confined to slanging matches but there was at least one exchange of blows. There were skirmishes along Old Steine and in Pool Valley bus depot. Anti-fascists were arrested and four were held for public order offences and one (ridiculously) for assault of a police officer.
The whole time this was happening more local people joined the mobile protests. Brighton Anti-fascists distributed a leaflet to explain their actions:
“Fascism grows if we let it. We are here to challenge the racism, Islamophobia and fascism of the EDL, Casuals United and the March for England. This has no place in our city or anywhere else.”
By 4pm police rounded up the majority of the Casuals, (around 35 of them) and marched them to the station where they were forcibly placed on a train and dispersed out of town. They were harangued by anti-fascists the whole way. A few more were arrested at this point for ‘racist chanting’. By the end of the day the fash had taken thirteen arrests meaning that even if we take their inflated estimate of a turn-out 100 at face value then one in seven of them were nicked. The spread of towns they came from means that this really was an attempt at a national mobilisation… oh dear.
In an effort to save face Casuals United have said that the vast majority of their supporters stayed hidden and undercover – moving around in small groups. Unfortunately for them, travelling to the City-by the Sea with all their racist and homophobic baggage meant that they did, in the end, reveal their true colours.
For those disappointed by the end of this year’s season of Game of Thrones there’s always the mystifying fantasy world of Suzy from Casuals United.
Their fantastic account of the weekend started with spotting “loads of UAF” up at the train station.
Actually there was no demo so we’re guessing that some of the idiots just ran into the crowd heading up to the Fatboy Slim effort at the football stadium and jumped to conclusions.
In the morning they came across “some unwashed anarchist scum on the beach in sleeping bags”..ermm do you mean homeless people? So much for the Soldiers off the Streets campaign.
Later, despite “not seeing a Commie all day” the Casuals apparently beat loads of us up.
“Ten people were arrested during these scuffles, mostly ours as several Anarchists were knocked out. A lot of ours then went to the police station to make sure those arrested were ok.”
In boring mundane reality no-one from either side was ‘knocked-out’. Even more hilariously not a single EDL supporter went to Hollingbury police station where their arrestees were being held (as Milton Keynes EDL member Darell Hobson found when he was released).
In the last analysis Suzy is still defiantly pretending that there were hordes of undercover Casuals in town but rather gives herself away with the last sentence “I know some people had genuine reasons not to turn up, but some people said they were going, didnt say they werent and didnt turn up. They should be ashamed and next time they say anything it will be treated as the shit it is.” Temper, temper dear.
The fascists present in Brighton on 2nd June will of course know that this is BS of the highest order and will perhaps begin to lose faith in their organisations and then hopefully, their politics.