VIDEO Birmingham antifascists and Britain First dispute the streets of the city

On Saturday afternoon, June 24, Birmingham antifascist protesters opposed Britain First supporters rallying in the city centre. With anger on both sides, they targeted each other with mirroring chants: “Nazi scum, out of Brum” versus “Muslim scum, off our streets”. 

See the highlights of the event in video footage, including interviews with protesters and supporters. I followed Britain First march to Centenary Square to observe how it developed. A number of Britain First supporters appeared displeased with media presence, aiming at my iPad as I was filming them march.

The battle of slogans went on

The Britain First rally and the Birmingham antifascists counter-protest both started at the corner of John Bright street, in the centre of Birmingham. Two vans and rows of police force separated them. As I arrived, I heard patriotic music booming in BF loudspeakers under a wave of flags. On the other side, the counter-protesters held speeches and shouted slogans about how Birmingham was a united, diverse city.

Both Britain First and the antifascist protesters chanted “who’s streets? our streets” repeatedly. A waved of chants on one side often stirred a reply from the other side.

The antifascist protesters shouted other slogans talking about diversity and solidarity in Birmingham. Many held banners reading:  “more in common (than that which divides us)”, “no to racism, fascism and islamophobia”. They sang “we are black, white, Asian and we’re Jews (and we’re gay!)”.

The local protest was organised by Unite Against Fascism Birmingham. Stand Up to Racism, the National Union of Teachers  and Birmingham City University Students’ Union joined them.

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Britain First supporters wave flags all the way from John Bright street to Centenary Square. Protesters
use on placards and sing their slogans.

Birmingham antifascists interviewed, BF participants declined

A few Birmingham antifascist protesters agreed to talk in front of the camera about why they participated. Watch Susan Green and her friend, Jeevan Singh (below). They say they have been protesting for 30 years against racism and in support of women’s rights.

Britain First supporters declined to talk on camera about their rally. Marching towards Centenary Square, they stopped to shout and angrily wave flags at couple of Asian looking photographers. At this point, the police intervened and moved the two away from the crowd.

Later again, rally participants targeted media people with their flags, then laughing as if it was merely a bit of banter. As soon as the police caught up with them, they waved and laughed, holding back.

Once they arrived in the square, party leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen held heir speeches. Here, the rally clustered in one corner, separated by two rows of policeman from the antifascist arriving in front of Birmingham Library. The rows of police force kept photographers and journalists away from the Britain First speeches and their supporters’ reactions.

A questions of symbols: from national flags to Knight Templar battle pennon

I saw many Union and England  in the British First rally, followed by a few Welsh and Scottish ones. Also, quite a number of Knight Templar battle flags stood out. Red cross on a stripped black and white background (see squares in photo below), crusaders used such flags under papal aproval in the Middle Ages. Now right-wing movements such Britain First adopt these symbols of a bygone era.

A number of Knight Templar battle flags were on display on the streets of Birmingham.

I also spotted a Polish flag, as well as the presence of a number of Polish speaking participants, wearing “Poland” inscribed T-shirts. According to mainstream media, border police detained far-right activists from this European country. They were reportedly trying to reach this rally.

Kasper, a Polish man, was the only Britain First supporter who replied positively when approached for an interview. As the march started, he held a placard displaying the famous Edmund Burke quote:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

Watch the video of Kasper on Landinside Facebook page. He says:

“I joined the Britain First march against Islam because Islam is evil. If you don’t believe that, look on the map of terrorist attacks. I’m for Poland, look on Poland, there is no terrorist attacks on Poland”.

Despite his anti-Islam message, Kasper behaved very friendly. He kept a very polite manner throughout, even staying behind as the march started moving. This man clearly wanted to explain why he was supporting this movement.

Policeman versus protester: a snippet of humanity

With BF rally pushed on one side of Centenary Square, and the antifascists shouting slogans and chanting on the other side, the square felt at times charged with tension. Things did not degenerate and participants only expressed their angers through some heated verbal exchange. Some local mainstream media used inflamed language to depict the gravity of the situation which videos from the scene do not account for.

At some point, the police force present in the square received water bottles to help them carry on in the heat of the afternoon. One policeman took a sip of water, then offered the bottle to the man with the banner (photo below) in front of him. The protester thanked, but said: “you need it”.

The man in the uniform insisted, assuring him they will get more bottles  shortly, and asking him to pass the bottle around.  A few others thanked and said they couldn’t, as they were fasting. The protester offered the bottle to people around him, perpetuating the gesture of humanity that the uniformed man started.

At about 15:00, when both the rally and the protest were scheduled to end, most participants left the square. Some stayed behind and kept shouting at each other. The police vans also remained on location to further separate the two sides.


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