Around 5,000 Nazis and racists gathered in Parliament Square, central London, on Saturday. Hundreds of the thugs tried to carry out a violent attack on Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.
It’s a warning of how the British far right is hoping to initiate a right wing backlash against the BLM movement.
But they can be humbled. That was underlined late in the day on Saturday when several thousand people who had seen the pictures of the far right answered calls from musician Megaman and others to come to central London to oppose them.
Earlier on the day racist groups streamed out of Charing Cross railway station and towards parliament, some chanting in support of Nazi Tommy Robinson. Some of the media called them counter-protesters against BLM's “threat” to statues. But in truth they were simply racist protesters.
There was an organised presence from Britain First, National Front and the remnants of the English Defence League.
After confrontations with the police near Westminster Bridge, a hundreds-strong breakaway group tore into a BLM protest of up to 100 in Trafalgar Square.
They threw smoke grenades and beer cans into the crowd, others chanted, “Lefty scum” as they tried to block off any getaway routes.
One group of racists kicked a young black man who was on the ground.
Earlier in the day the Nazis had hurled racist abuse at passers-by with slurs, including, “You black bastard” and “Proud to be white”.
Up to 300 supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) joined a counter-protest in Hyde Park where they faced abuse and intimidation from the far right.
Robinson had called on his supporters to “protect” the statue of Tory prime minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square. He posted a video rant last weekend, saying that “every single man should be in London next Saturday” or “forever don’t call yourself a patriot”.
He pulled out the day before the protest.
His video came after monster BLM marches in London and after protesters had pulled down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
The Parliament Square protest was the biggest far right mobilisation since the “Free Tommy” movement that was on the rise in the summer of 2018. Then, Robinson and his allies mobilised 6,000, 15,000 and 6,000 onto the streets of Whitehall in three rallies.
The size of the mobilisation on Saturday was comparable to some of those of 2018, but the make up of the protest was different.
The “Free Tommy” movement brought together of a wide section of hardcore fascists, supporters of the racist Ukip party, younger people inspired by the US alt right and other racists.
Saturday’s was almost exclusively male, middle aged and more hardcore.
One photographer had a glass bottle smashed into his face.
Outside London there were small gatherings of the far right to “defend” statues and war memorials that had never been under threat. In Newcastle around 200 confronted BLM protesters.
Such violent far right mobilisations need to be challenged. But the real story of the last few weeks is the size of the anti-racist movement, which vastly outnumbers Robinson and his co-thinkers.
The far right is incensed because so many black and white people have taken to the streets across Britain.
The BLM movement has become a focus for people’s anger at racism and the system. And it made gains, with councils and institutions promising to pull down statues and memorials to slave traders and racists.
The fascists’ 5,000 was small compared to the 50,000 that came out last Saturday and the monster march last Sunday.
BLM organisers had planned another central London demonstration for this Saturday. But called it off out of fears of clashes with the far right and coronavirus concerns.
The far right may feel confident after their protest. But seeing tens of thousands of people—black, white, overwhelmingly young, and militant—on the streets is the best way to demoralise them and make sure they cannot regroup.