Protest at RWB

August 16th, 2009 § 2 comments

The UAF protest at the RWB Festival yesterday was largely peaceful, but did not achieve as much as was hoped for.

I was part of a group of around 200-300 protesters who blocked one of the nearby roads from around 10am to 2.30pm, when we heard that all other road blocks had been broken, and faced with four police horses, dogs, and a body of around 50 to 60 police, we rejoined the official body of protesters.

The protest was generally good-natured. At several points during the day, the police tried to disperse us, informing us of some random section that had been invoked that made our gathering illegal, but we formed ranks and linked arms, and in the end each time the police looked as though they were about to use force, they decided not too. The police were forced to block the road themselves with two police vans parked across it, as Nazi’s trying to attend the festival were stuck in a large traffic jam and started to get out of their cars to confront us.

We were informed that other road blocks had been held for a while, but eventually the Nazi’s managed to get to their festival, though in lower numbers than the BNP hoped for.

The protest I was with was peaceful but resolute. The police were mainly locals, and at no point changed into riot gear, a far cry from the G20 protests, where the thugs of the Met’s Territorial Support Group couldn’t wait to get tooled up. This would have undoubtedly lead to some  serious conflict, especially in a confined country lane.  The policing was far more sensible on this occasion, though we still have to remember that they were there primarily to try and ensure the festival of hate continued undisturbed.

I challenged a number of them on why they were protecting the Nazi’s. In the main there were few denials that the BNP were Nazi’s, but the usual theme of freedom of speech came through, combined with the traditional ‘I’m just doing my job’.  One officer said to me (in reference to our protest) that his grandfather who fought in the war would be appalled, which was a strange thing to say. I pointed out that his grandfather, and in fact the many millions who died in the war against the Nazi’s, would be appalled by the fact that the Nazi’s are now being protected by the police, and granted democratic status by our governments, who are paralysed in the face of the new family friendly approach of the BNP.

Whilst we did not achieve the shutdown that we hoped for, the protest was uplifting and partially successful. The particular blockade I was with was made up of a large mixture of young, old, black and white. We were prepared to struggle alongside each other, though individually few if any there were at all inclined to violence. This is in contrast to the BNP, whose strength is rooted in violent, thuggish and cowardly attacks on individuals, rather than any collective action. We can take strength from this as a movement. We are not the same as them – there is a huge difference between their racial violence and the type of direct but non-violent force that we used.

There is also great potential to shut this festival down. Given a bit more planning, and double the number of protesters, we could have held the key road points. We must make sure we a successful next time, as it unfortunately seems likely there will be a next time.

I have been informed about a piece on the news last night, I will post the link once I find it. Apparently one of the ‘fun’ games at the festival was to put two characters dressed as Obama and Bin Laden in the stocks and throw things at them!

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