What the fuck is a “rapefugee”? On sexism, sexual violence and the alt-right

jack-buckby-channel-4-newsThis week, Channel Four News chose to give a platform to former BNP member Jack Buckby in a debate about the ‘alt-right’, alongside Barbara Ntumy, an activist with NUS Black Students. In a video clip that’s now been widely shared, Buckby suggests that Ntumy should take in a Syrian refugee herself, then adds “I hope you don’t get raped”.

Many viewers have been shocked by this. But we shouldn’t be shocked that alt-right activists try this manoeuvre to scaremonger about refugees. Fascists and the far-right have been trying to forge an imaginary connection between migrants and sexual violence for years now. Last year, Pegida and other smaller fascist groups called protests against what they crudely termed “rapefugees” after a spate of sex attacks in Cologne, which were dubiously linked to Syrian refugees in a series of unsubstantiated reports. Far-right activists attempt to create this link in people’s minds to present outsiders –‘foreigners’ – as a danger to ‘pure’ white European culture. Fascists scapegoat Muslims and migrants for everyday evils that are in fact already deeply embedded in our own society, then cherry-pick their examples of migrant violence in a dishonest and disingenuous way to exaggerate the threat of migrant newcomers. For example, fascists made much of the fact that the Rochdale paedophile ring contained Muslims,while deliberately overlooking the large numbers of white paedophiles and sex offenders, including powerful repeat offenders in the Church and the BBC, and the dozens of white people who helped cover up their crimes. According to the 2013 Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, 80.9% of sentenced sexual offenders in the UK in 2011 were white – and this is without taking into account the ethnic variations in sentencing across almost all crimes in Britain, which leads to disproportionately lower conviction rates for white attackers.

Let’s get this one point clear: there is no link between being a refugee and perpetrating sexual violence. The only really significant correlation between any demographic and sexual violence is that most perpetrators are men and most victims are women (and/or children). Sexism has no respect for borders; it spans continents regardless of nationality or race. White British fascists and alt-righters – the kind that use the word “rapefugee” and claim to be the defenders of women and children – are, by definition, incredibly sexist. They are sexist both in their behaviour – in their comments online and their sexual objectification of women – and in their ideology, which argues for extreme, traditional gender roles in which women’s choices are limited and recent advances in women’s rights are reversed. At a demonstration of the Racial Volunteer Force at Royal Holloway University late last year, far-right ideologue Jez Turner shouted “get back in the kitchen!” at female students on an anti-fascist counter-protest. Fascists are no friends to women.

The myth of the sexually-violent refugee draws on racist stereotypes which depict BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) men as sexually aggressive and threatening. These stereotypes go back to Britain’s colonial days and arise from a profound racist fear of black and Asian masculinity, which has often been perceived as a threat to white male domination. In the minds of far-right and alt-right men, women are the prizes for powerful ‘alpha’ males, and strong BME men represent a danger because they ‘compete’ for the same pool of women that white men are aiming to possess. Hence the popularity of the idea that migrants might “come over here and take our women” as well as jobs and resources: for these men, women are resources. Hard-right sexists don’t afford women the basic respect of recognising their agency in choosing partners. It’s no surprise,then, that the alt-right recruit through online spaces where ‘red pill’ misogyny is common: they link together feminism and multiculturalism as joint evils in a world where they feel that white men are losing out. Using this myth allows white racist men to present themselves as the unthanked saviours and protectors of women and children who are supposedly in danger from migrants, while simultaneously often blaming women and their choices (e.g. how they dress) for their experiences with sexual violence. As a woman who has repeatedly faced sexual violence from white British men, I can confirm: the idea that white men are less sexist than BME men is utter bullshit.

Here’s a message to all you alt-right pricks and fascist scumbags out there: I don’t want your “protection”. I know you’re sexist hypocrites and that you only care about my safety when it can be used to attack migrants.

We must destroy sexual violence across borders, and we must stand in solidarity with people in different communities fighting sexism and racism from the grassroots.

Oh, and for fuck’s sake Channel Four:

NO PLATFORM FOR FASCISTS.

by Kalliara

Brexit protest disaster for SEA

Trafalgar Square
Fascists trying to speed up Britain’s departure from the European Union held a disastrous protest in central London on a Friday night at the end of July. There was a shockingly low turnout of around 30 and several attendees required hospital visits afterwards.

During the protest clashes with a Black Lives Matter (BLM) march occurred which saw two of the fascists get arrested. The fascists responded to the passing anti-racist march by shouting ‘white lives matter’ which they continued to chant well after it had passed.

The far-right protest was organised by the South East Alliance (SEA) which bills itself as an ‘angry white and proud’ street movement. This was the latest in a string of poorly attended events organised by the group and at times resembled a pub crawl more than a protest.

Starting in the early evening at a pub on the top of Whitehall, the far-right group were escorted down to Downing Street by a phalanx of police officers. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) held a counter-protest which provided some vocal opposition to the fascists.

While the far-right protest was supposed to be demanding the government immediately invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, attendees shouted anti-refugee slogans and spent most of their time on the streets expressing their hostility to BLM protestors.

Once the fascist’s protest was over they were escorted back up Whitehall to the pub. Thinking they had done their bit, the assorted oddballs began sinking pints and taking selfies outside the pub, glorying in what they had done.

But their gloating was both unfounded and premature.

Once darkness had fallen, several drunk fascists looking to make their way home from the pub discovered militant anti-fascists from across London had mobilised for the occasion. Full and frank discussions left several fascists requiring medical attention.

One of these fascists was Mark Johnson from Huddersfield who has been involved in several attacks on anti-fascists in the past. Johnson is mixed race and regularly uses his identity to claim his obviously racist far-right associates aren’t racist.

Anti-fascists were shocked to see Johnson drinking with two self-declared members of neo-Nazi youth group National Action. Adding to the confusion, when the far-right trio discovered anti-fascists were in the area they tried to hide in a gay club.

After being denied entry to the club there was short and sharp exchange of opinions. While this was happening Johnson’s associates made Nazi salutes while shouting ‘National Action’. Once anti-fascists had made their views known the two young fascists ran away, leaving Johnson to make his own way to hospital.

Two other fascists spent the night after the protest in hospital – Terry Jenkins and Catta Haynes, who are both close to the leadership of the SEA. Haynes told Facebook friends afterwards he had ‘lost [a] lot [of] blood’ after being ‘whacked from behind’.

Other fascists were lucky to leave London without having any such encounters, particularly a certain crew from Essex.

SEA are a group of neo-Nazi pensioners, former BNP activists and self-described patriots which split from the EDL. Led by Cypriot immigrant Paul Prodromou, the group has been attempting to launch a far-right street movement to the right of the EDL since 2013.

The SEA is based in Essex but has members and supporters in parts of London and Kent. Their activity was initially directed against Muslims but as the counter-jihad street movement has dissipated, they’ve taken to the streets to oppose refugees and Irish republicans.

Holding a protest demanding Article 50 be invoked immediately was an attempt by the group to tap into frustration felt by Leave voters. It was also an attempt to establish themselves as a leading group on the British far-right.

The EU referendum has been a focus for far-right activity for months. Fascists across the UK supported the Leave campaign vigorously, distributing leaflets and holding street stalls. Well before the wave of racist violence was unleashed across the country.

Building unity between the disparate groups on the far-right has been Prodromou’s top priority but attempts to achieve this have largely ended in failure. The only exception being the 30 January anti-immigration protest in Dover which saw neo-Nazis and fascists from across the UK uniting behind the SEA.

But the Dover protest descended into five hours of street fighting between anti-fascists and the far-right and many fascists have been jailed for their role in the violence. Pressure from anti-fascists has been one of the key factors in the inability of the SEA to actually build a street movement.

In the past few years they have suffered repeated defeats by anti-fascists in Brighton, Cricklewood and Dover. On one occasion Prodromou had the literal shit kicked out of him after a botched attack on left-wing football fans by the SEA in Southend.

Prodromou was absent from the Brexit protest due to bail conditions so the majority of the organising was done by Prodromou’s wife and Marcus & Vicky Barke from a small Walthamstow based far-right group called ‘AIF English Lions’ which works with the SEA.

London Anti-fascists believes fascist groups such as these are best opposed with a diversity of tactics, picked to suit the specific situation.

We are all traitors, and we Strike back.

The murder of Joe Cox, a pro migrant MP has shocked the country and left commentators struggling to explain it. Clearly something has changed in the far right since the days of BNP electoralism, a shift that has oriented them back to street based violence. But this still doesnt answer the question, why target Joe Cox?

Joe Cox was an MP of the Labour party but wasn’t in anyway ideologically committed to socialism or communism, she never described herself as an antifascist or at least not prominently and she was not visibly BME. In a country that has begun to see fascist violence as something that is just directed at those visibly different to being white British and performed by people who perform these acts on the way home from the pub. This is very different.

The attacker in this instance is not a drunken loner but an ideologically committed fascist who has chosen this target for specific political reasons.

Cultural Marxism was once assigned to the fringes of the far right, it is the delusional belief that communists and jews plot to bring down the white race through social movements like gay rights, anti racism and anti fascism. They believe that MPs like Joe Cox are part of an international Jewish conspiracy to flood the UK with Muslim migrants and therefore a traitor. Again this was a fringe theory until recently and more and more hard right publications and blogs have been picking this theory up, legitimising it. Breitbart Media even has a dedicated tag on its articles relating to ‘Cultural Marxism’.

Its this theory that is beginning to join traditional conservatives with the far right in their view of the world’s problems and it’s this theory that ultimately drove a man to assassinate a Labour MP. With this shift in far right ideology comes a shift in targets, people who originally felt ‘safe’ from far right attack should be under no illusion that if you are political enemy of fascism you are a viable target. Our response to this should be to counter this threat by any means necessary.

The question people will inevitable ask is who’s to blame for this? The mainstream media will offer it’s usual plethora of reasons: mental illness, the polarization of the EU referendum debate etc. But the problem is far more uncomfortable than we would like to believe. The far-right has been building, changing and growing in the past years, shifting their strategy back to the days of Lone Wolf attacks, straight of out of David Lane’s Turner Diaries. This is not only a UK or even European phenomena, but global. Dylan Roof, the Charleston shooter in North Carolina, was part of the same movement, read the same blogs and sported the same badges as Mair. Fascists are becoming bolder and bolder, and it is because of the space afforded to them by societal complacency which has allowed them to become more brazen.

London Anti-Fascist and the Anti-Fascist Network refuse to allow that space to exist. This is we we urge all anti-fascists, leftists and revolutionaries, to take the far-right seriously. They are only basement dwelling pre-teens spewing racial slurs on forums, they’re on the streets and they are arming themselves. Every platform they take, every single word they are able to speak, only further allows them to build strength. And so, we must respond in kind.

These far right assassins, like Thomas Mair or Zack Davies, were members of far right groups. That lived in our communities, that shopped in our shops, all the while plotting their attacks. Our response as antifascists must be to not allow them the anonymity in their communities. Strip off the veneer of ordinary and show the world who they really are. For too long, the far right have been able to march through diverse areas, invade mosques and attack left wing activists only to retreat back home, into neighborhoods that will never know their actions or their motives. This must end, the bastards must be exposed.

The End of the Unity Project?

London Anti-fascists, along with other AFN groups were in Dover over the weekend to oppose a  far right march and gig. As a group, we have
been consistently mobilising against the South East Alliance and their
leader Paul Pitt since he began his quest to become the fuhrer of the
British Far right through a project he called “Unity Demos”
(imaginative I know). The SEAs mobilisations in Dover have constantly
been shrinking since they failed to smash the antifascist opposition on the 30th January and this time was no different.

The Unity Demos were a project that was billed as being able to
effectively oppose the left on the streets, drawing out many of the
older far right out of retirement in order to ‘smash the reds’ again.
It could be argued that they sensed that the new anti fascist movement
had not been tested on the streets and could be overcome by the use of
extreme violence and force. This led to fascists from all over the
country traveling to Dover, armed and ready to fight. However this
delusion was cruely shattered both in Maidstone services and in Dover
itself when the repeated attacks on anti fascist lines were repulsed,
leading to many injuries. The protracted nature of these engagements
led to an absolute glut of evidence against the Fascists which was
collected by Kent Police.  It was the unwillingness of anti-fascists in Dover to bend to fascist violence that has eroded the
far right’s confidence and led them to have to coordinate with the
police in order to guarantee their right to march. It has led to over
50 of their activists facing jail for one action and it has showed
Paul Pitt to not be the competent leader they had hoped he was. Infact
we would go as far as to say that those 50 people facing long
stretches in prison are their because of his arrogance and ego.

Around thirty were in Dover for what was supposed to be a weekend of
protests and a gig in the evening to raise money for the 50+ facing
charges because of Paul Pitts and Roy Prices tactical errors on the
30th. Its safe to say that numbers falling from the 70 they had at
their previous demonstration is an absolute disaster for the would be
Fuhrer Pitt as more and more groups seem to be abandoning him. This
disaster was only compounded by the fact that two more Fascists were
arrested for offences on the 30th, the irony being that this weekend
was supposed to be used to support those already in prison not funnel
more ‘patriots’ in behind bars.

As if it wasn’t bad enough to spend your weekend in Dover not
achieving anything, to round it off the NF decided to distance itself
from the ‘unity project’ of Pitt, publicly criticizing it for being
‘non white’ and containing ‘race mixers’. This all begs the question,
is this the end for Pitt and the SEA? Well, we think so.
Hide

Fight Like a Girl

Barely several hours into this year’s International Women’s Day and the far­-right were already coming out of the woodwork feigning recognition for the annual event. Could it be that they’ve ditched their ideological commitment to re­establishing patriarchy to become progressive advocates of women’s liberation? Or are they just opportunists cynically using women to push an agenda? Earlier that same week in a Facebook post, fascists North West Infidels (NWI), stated that the Suffragettes “fought and died” in vain while the Burka continues to be worn by Muslim women unchallenged in Great Britain.

NWI, like other far right groups, maintain the veil is “oppressive” and if women who cover up refuse to integrate then they should just “go back” to “the barbaric third world” where they came from. Worryingly, UKIP’s deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, was also pushing the burka ban as his impassioned tweet demonstrated, appealing to a wider public.

Call me a cynic, but I don’t buy it, and I’m counting on the reader for whom this addresses not to need an in depth explanation as to why the far-­right haven’t had a sudden change of heart, and that this is nothing more than a shameless attempt to reassert their racist agenda. Instead, as a disabled, bisexual, woman of colour I want to talk about why fighting fascism is a feminist issue and integral to the working class struggle. If fascism succeeds the rights of women and minority genders will be pushed back along with the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, the LGBT community, and fascism’s political opponents in the Left.

 

Bizarrely, there has been a concerted effort by some in the far­-right towards a fascism that does in fact celebrate women’s resistance, but of course this is always caveated with a resistance to the emergence of progressive Leftist ideas: those pesky “cultural­Marxists” responsible for the ever encroaching onslaught of “rape­ugees” are among some declared enemies of the far-­right. In an embarrassing attempt to sound intellectual, fascists National Action (NA) published an article making a case for “Fascist Feminism”. They write:

“In a supposedly male dominated world full of sexual exploitation, gender oppression, sexist bias and blatant misogyny, the rising tide of feminine resistance is gathering ever greater momentum. Slim and beautiful, tough and intelligent, a new Cult of the Idisi are taking to the streets under the Lambda and Celtic Cross.”

Admittedly I chuckled when I first read this. But it wasn’t the first time I had come across this ideological trajectory on the far­right. For decades feminist thinkers have been puzzled over the ostensive appeal fascism has had on women, particularly as it is an ideology concerned with the eroding of women’s rights, among the rights of other minorities. The Sky 1 documentary “BNP Wives” was difficult viewing. But a fascist woman is still a fascist. Some groups, such as Pie and Mash Squad, have recently made notably more attempts to glorify female fascist street fighters. Their efforts to draw more women into the movement rests upon the following criteria: that the women are exclusively White European, and that as a woman their value is contingent on their reproductive power.

A fascist woman writes:

“It’s tough being a woman in pro­white circles… I think if white nationalist men are serious about attracting women, they need to offer us real options. Not the one or the otheroption we currently have but something that would allow us to provide for our families and still be involved mothers.”

These contradicting statements reveal a commitment to asserting traditional gender roles, but also a desire for agency and to be taken seriously within the movement. This is really at odds with fascist ideology which is for the most part regressive and concerned with going back toa time where white male Europeans dominated. Fascists historically, and continue to be, committed to the idea that women will only be liberated when they are assigned to their “natural” calling: as mothers, child­rearers, and social reproducers of the men who will further the movement. Notably, the far­right’s preoccupation with themes like blood, soil, trees, the earth, and other symbols of the perceived “natural order of things”[1] demonstrates an ideology that is seeped in essentialist, gendered language. While “Neomasculinity” is a seeminglyburgeoning movement advanced by forever­alone men’s rights activist Roosh V, it is no coincidence that white supremacists are being drawn to his explicitly misogynist

philosophy[2,3]. Neomasculinists maintain that they are resisting the “shame” of being in touch with their ‘masculinity’ as a backlash against #creepingfeminism and pro­queer agendas. This further evidences a clear link between men’s rights activists and an underlying theme in fascist ideology concerned with reverting back totradition and back to “nature”. And this is why women are integral to the fight against fascism.

Far­right attempts to cynically use and continue to objectify women’s bodies in order to push their racist agenda is nothing new, although it is manifesting in seemingly more explicit ways. But their unsubtle efforts to manipulate growing insecurities around the migrant crisis is hard to swallow when we consider some of their actions in recent clashes at Dover. Women comrades on the frontlines confronting Neo­Nazis heard rape threats and vile, misogynist abuse being spouted by the very same fascists feigning concern for the “Oppressed Muslim” woman. Much of this sexism was racialised. Despite the sexist, verbal diarrhea spewing out of the mouths of these fascists, women comrades were undeterred and we defended ourselves effectively through realising our collective power. It should go without saying, the level of gendered and racialised violence reported here is by no means an attempt to warn women and other marginalised people to stay away from such militant anti­fascist actions. You don’t need a gatekeeper who thinks they know what’s best for you to tell you to stay away. Some of the strongest, bravest, and most badass people I have met in our movement are women.

The last thing we need is patronising saviours telling us we don’t have to fight the fascists if we don’t feel up to it. It’s true, we don’t. But for me, it’s not a question of choice. It’s through my very lack of choices and my very lack of privilege that I take risks to defend myself from state violence and fascism. For those who have actively blocked practical solidarity and support to anti­fascist organisations in the name of standing up for women and people of colour you believe are undermined in the movement, you’ve actually made it more dangerous for us to organise. I feel safer on the streets standing with my comrades who I know will risk the imminent threat of state and fascist violence to defend me ­ as I would them ­ than when I’m at a broad Left A­B march walking no more than 10 yards away from a known abuser and sex offender in the movement, surrounded by their mates, enabling their behaviour and subsequently the behaviour of perpetrators of abuse and sexual violence to continue unopposed. Also knowing that, if I were to confront them there and then, the people around me would shout “this is not the time and place!” or demand proof that this person is an abuser. This experience is not unique to me, but akin to the many brilliant women anti­fascists who have echoed similar sentiments.

There is indeed a rich history of women playing an integral part in militant anti­fascism, but you probably won’t read much about it in accounts or history books. Male antifascists are either recognised above all others within the movement (because, guess what?Sexism and gender­bias is endemic!) or our very existences are utterly erased by the more liberal elements in the wider Left who dismiss anti­fascism as a macho mess of white boys who just want a fight.

Let me make one thing clear: violence is notmacho ­ it’s necessary.It’s not reserved just for big, tough looking men. Many women, minority genders, and people of colour are not strangers to defending ourselves against patriarchal violence. This is in no way an attempt to glorify or over­romanticise militant tactics above the sheer level of organising, intelligence gathering, and political campaigning that defends anti­fascism from the state and the far­right. But the very fact is, women and minority genders do a lot of the militant work. We are on the frontlines. We stand with our comrades and break police lines, often putting our bodies at risk of physical violence and at risk of being snatched and arrested. We stand with our comrades when confronting fascists and racists, putting our bodies at risk of imminent threat of physical violence, but successfully driving them back. Whether we fight with our fists or stand strong and shout “NO PASARAN!” we never back down.

I’m a revolutionary. I’m a feminist. I’m an anti­fascist. And I’m a woman. My parents are immigrants part of a diaspora of peoples forced to leave their country of origin because of conflict and poverty. If we were under a fascist government, history shows us my family would be deported and I would be killed because of my political commitment to communism. Fascism needs to be opposed, and working class women and minorities will continue to be at the frontlines of this struggle.

Redsmiths

 

 


1. Julie V. Gottlieb, and Thomas P. Linehan [eds.] (2004) Culture of Fascism: Visions of the Far Right in B r i t a i n ,T a u r i s & C o L t d : N e w Y o r k , P . 1 8 4

dover

No Nazis in Dover / London Anti-Fascists go to Dover April 2nd

London Anti-Fascists will be supporting the demonstration from Kent Anti-Racist Network to again oppose the presence of neo-nazi groups on our streets.

In January 30th around 220 London Anti-Fascist supporters were prevented from attending the demonstrations due to an incident at Maidstone Service station with around 50 far-right hooligans.

We will be going straight to Dover this time to ensure we get there. Please email us with subject line: COACH2DOVER to secure a place on the coach to our email address: ldnantifascists@riseup.net

More details soon.

Please share our Facebook Event

Dover: Wake up call for the left, no victory for nationalism

Anti-fascists blocking the route of the far-right march

Saturday 30 January 2016 in Dover will go down in contemporary history as an occasion when British nationalists, right-wing football hooligans and neo-Nazis joined forces on the streets to demonstrate against immigration and refugees, while launching violent attacks on anti-fascist counter-protestors. What follows is an account of what happened on the day, why we face an increasingly violent far-right street movement, and what we can do to organise together and defeat it.

Refugee crisis explodes

In September last year over 100,000 people marched through central London in solidarity with refugees fleeing war and searching for a better life. It followed months of intense media attention on the largest wave of migration seen in Europe since the Second World War. Every day people watched in horror as the bodies of refugees washed up onto the shores of southern Europe and states did nothing to stop it. In the absence of any humanitarian response from national governments, tens of thousands of ordinary citizens faced the disaster with autonomously organised mutual aid and solidarity.

But not everyone rallied behind those in need. As the crisis deepened, a racist backlash followed: asylum centres were burnt down, refugees were attacked, and border regimes tightened even further. In Britain public attitudes towards providing assistance gradually hardened, specifically among elements of the working class struggling in a tanking economy and facing increased welfare cuts. For the far-right it’s provided fertile ground.

The far-right is getting more organised but so are we

Last month’s rally in Dover was the latest in a series of protests designed to capitalise on this unprecedented crisis. Like the others it was organised in part by Cypriot-born immigrant Paul Pitt (real name Paul Prodromou), Chairman of the South East Alliance (SEA) and a committed racist nationalist who sees no contradiction between his own ethnic roots and his dislike of anything foreign.

Pitt has an obsession with seeking “unity” across the far-right political spectrum. Since the collapse of the English Defence League (EDL) the British far-right has been riven with splits and turf wars and has unraveled into a number of increasingly violent, ideologically extreme splinter groups. These groups often number less than a dozen and regularly fail to mobilise even their own close supporters, but with the current crisis things are clearly changing.

On 12 September 2015 Pitt, together with the National Front (NF) organised a protest in Dover against immigration and refugees, which saw violent clashes between anti-fascists and around 200 far-right activists. After that day we knew how important last month’s protest was going to be. Intelligence suggested that a number of violent racist gangs and individuals were intending to travel. With the NF taking a back seat because of concerns around associating with street violence ahead of an election, the two groups organising the new protest were both splinters from the EDL: the SEA and North West Infidels (NWI). In the end around 14 different far-right groups stated their intention of taking to the streets.

In response the AFN decided that a national mobilisation was needed and began coordinating in cities and regions across the country, including Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton and Sheffield. In London around 350 anti-fascists mobilised and travelled on AFN-organised transport including 6 coaches and several minibuses. This was our biggest mobilisation outside London to date: a demonstration that opposing the racist backlash to the migrant crisis on the streets is absolutely crucial.

Maidstone Services

On the day we took a decision to stop at Maidstone Services before we arrived in Dover so people could stock up on supplies and take toilet breaks. A report of two minibuses of far-right activists was phoned in but at that point it was too late to do anything. People were instructed to stay for a maximum of 15 minutes as we waited for other coaches to meet up. We felt this would be in the interests of everybody’s safety and wellbeing, though in hindsight the risk of bumping into the far-right and it kicking off was too high.

Around 10 minutes into our pitstop, we got a phone call that our sixth coach was just pulling in. Unfortunately, behind it was another coach of around 50-60 hooligans and neo-Nazi skinheads. After staring at us through the windows they began piling off and attacking. At first between six and seven launched into a small anti-fascist crowd. One fascist slipped and fell back-first onto the ground while a woman was punched and kicked. Fists and bottles were launched, and we saw various other weapons emerge: belts, knuckle dusters, koshes, batons, padlocks and chains, all suggesting the group had travelled well prepared for violence. The first attack was successfully repelled and we managed to hold a line to ensure people were protected. With each attack, more and more fascists were severely injured. They lobbed ripped-up bricks, road cones and dustbins but nobody was hit.

Though we can’t say too much, we can conclude that faced with a seasoned mob of Chelsea Headhunters and Combat 18 skinheads, anti-fascists managed to defend themselves bravely, collectively and with dignity, pushing the fascists back onto their coach with their tails between their legs.

One hooligan, emerging with blood dripping from his head, started to smash one of our coaches, by which time most anti-fascists were back onboard wanting to get to Dover. He then walked over to an adjacent coach and used his own blood to paint a swastika on the side of it – which has received widespread media attention. He then smashed a coach full of schoolchildren.

This whole scene lasted about 20 minutes until a small number of police arrived, which slowly grew to several dozen riot police who found more weapons on the fascist coach. It was at that point that around 215 anti-fascists were detained at the service station and prevented from joining our comrades on the streets of Dover. Though this incident led to reduced numbers on the ground in Dover and meant that the blockade we were intending was weakened we note that hundreds of people were willing to come and will be willing to come again.

Dover…

The goal of the day was clear: bring enough people to the demonstration to block the far-right march in the train station and prevent them from rampaging through Dover. When we heard about our comrades being detained in Maidstone we knew this might not be possible. But it was clear the demo was still going to be big, broad and determined to stop the fascists in their tracks.

A decision was made to block the march on Folkestone Road, a short distance from Dover Priory station where the far-right protest was forming up. Anti-fascists made it to this road with very little trouble and a coalition of AFN, Dover residents, local trade unionists and labour movement activists massed on the road. It was at this point that we knew the game had changed.

A group of 50+ fascists made up of veteran neo-Nazis, far-right football hooligans and EDL supporters moved from the train station, across the grounds of a private school, up Effingham Crescent and into the side of the anti-fascist blockade. It became clear that many of the fascists had no intention of playing the liberal game of marching to demonstrate a point: they had travelled to Dover with the sole purpose of trying to smash their political opposition.

The group who attacked came with bricks, glass bottles, clubs and knives, catching many on the anti-fascist side by surprise. The images which have been shared by the far-right on social media of young people with missing teeth and broken noses were largely from this first volley of bricks and missiles. We don’t believe throwing rocks at kids while standing with neo-Nazis is really something to be proud of is it Roy Price or Darren Shield?

Given the obviously pre-planned nature of the far-right violence which happened it is a credit to all the anti-fascists present that we were able to beat back attacks every time they came at us. Anti-fascists were kettled by police, pelted with rocks and attacked by roving mobs of neo-Nazis but were able to deal with everything thrown at us (pun intended). Furthermore, it has been misrepresented in some places that this was two groups of white men fighting each other, which is simply untrue.

The people who defended the anti-fascist march were from a cross section of society; comrades who are neither cis, het, white or male stood side-by-side at the front alongside comrades from other backgrounds. The disgusting gendered violence of the far-right in Dover will be explored in more detail in a coming article, however it was heartening to hear one female comrade say at the end of the day: “anti-fascism is our space, we created that space through our own collective defence and after the rape threats today, it’s clear that fascism is rooted in patriarchy, more women must take up this cause if we are going to kick back male dominance as well as racism and fascism.”

AFN anti-fascists finished the day by marching into the centre of Dover where we were later joined by trade unionists, Kent anti-racists and others to the cries of “No Pasaran!”. Each group understood the vital role the others had played on the day and a strong mutual respect was forged. The day finished with a group of 60 to 70 neo-Nazis throwing Nazi salutes in unison before attempting to break into Market Square and attack the anti-fascists who had gathered there. As before, each time the neo-Nazis attacked they were beaten back, on more than one occasion fleeing before feeling the brunt of an anti-fascist counter charge. The only thing halting the fascist retreat was Kent police forming a protective cordon on their behalf.

Winning the battle of ideas, defending each other on the streets

In short, Dover saw the most violent far-right street protest in a generation. Many of the fascists that travelled were not there to simply highlight their views through protest, but to smash their opposition through political violence. This is the material reality in which we now live. The events on the streets of Dover were no accident, they were pre-planned by fascists as demonstrated by the large cache of weapons seized by the cops and confiscated by anti-fascists during confrontations. We can expect to see more fascist violence towards the left in the months ahead, especially if the “migrant crisis” intensifies and the racist backlash grows.

But what happened in Dover was by no means a defeat for the left. Many people realised they were able to collectively defend themselves and each other from naked aggression and the fascists understood that they will not be able to control the streets without contest (and bloodshed). However what we do next is important.

It is obvious that a new ideologically extreme far-right street movement is posing a real threat to the left and marginalised groups. At the same time there is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis taking place in Europe and ongoing imperialism in the Middle East. These are conditions in which the far-right can grow unless the people who can be seduced by fear are instead won by the hope for a better world.

The left must refound its anti-fascism along the lines of working class unity. The idea that our interests and enemies are aligned with those waiting in the migrant camps in Europe must be put forward. This is not to say that we have the same oppression or experience of oppression but instead to say that it is in all of our interests to rid the world of the structural oppression that binds us in chains and profits only a few. It is not good enough to paint fascists as idiots: this ignores the ideological goals which they seek to achieve and ignores the real purpose behind their actions. We need to give an explanation for people’s hunger and fear that apportions blame to the ruling class rather than migrants. We need to win the battle of ideas and be prepared to defend each other on the streets.

We would like to thank everyone who came to Dover or who tried to make it, and stood by their comrades in the face of political violence. You are the anti-fascist movement. Without you neo-Nazis would be able to control the streets uncontested and the left and marginalised groups would find it increasingly difficult to organise. Please get involved in your nearest anti-fascist group, every skill and ability is valued as it can takes months of time and work to organise demonstrations.