Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations
Over the past 5 years I’ve attended protests, demonstrations and counter-demonstrations about racism. I’ve led them, spoken at them, and attended as a mere observer. Yet, what I’ve observed wasn’t what my initial perception was, my eyes have been opened. And a reason why, when asked to attend or speak at any same-day counter-demonstration, I decline.
A same-day counter-demonstration, in my opinion, is by design, an attack on free speech. It often serves to silence either an individual, group or organisation that has opposing views or opinions.
There are often dark forces at play; no conspiracy theory! And I base this view on my own personal experiences. Such events have become commonplace over the years. All I ask of you is to open your mind to your surroundings if you attend. While your intentions maybe good, always question the intentions of those who provide a vehicle for you to attend such gatherings.
Often these events are used as recruitment grounds to suit political agendas. Created by professional protesters, hidden behind banners that plant the seeds of hate and division. Yet, at the same time claiming to oppose the very things they’re encouraging.
Racism protest groups playing on fears
In March 2016 I was asked to join in a National Front counter demo. When I declined, there was a gasp of air on the other end of the phone. So, I explained why I could not, by drawing on my past experiences. I said I believed that “anti fascist/racist groups” who claimed links to my home city, but under the umbrella of national movements, had only promoted the fact the National Front was about to grace the city with its unwelcome presence.
So, these groups claiming to oppose racism, had shared and highlighted this group calling itself the National Front. Playing on the good intentions of the people, to push their own agendas that, I believe, have political undertones. Posts were shared in the tens of thousands and the tambourine brigade was out in force. Almost enjoying the frenzy and hype it was causing, yet oblivious to the platform it was giving to this insignificant group.
Yet, only 25 National Front members turned up – and they were bussed in! Not even from the local area!
Now, I’ve had previous encounters with the National Front. I’d never seen anymore than about 15 members attend their “demos”. This makes the group too insignificant to try to brand a whole city or even country as racist. Personally, I find it outright offensive. The concept of racism is alien to me. And I believe this to be true of the community in which I reside. This doesn’t mean I don’t recognise there are elements of our society that are racist. I just don’t believe it’s representative of the wider community and any more a problem faced by anyone slightly different to the “norm”. For example: ginger, gay, wealthy, poor, fat, thin and so on.
Racism counter-demonstrationss provoking violence
I’ve seen such same-day counter-demos turn nasty. And I’ve stood on the side of peace and anti-war. I’ve witnessed the people I came to support be the antagonistic ones. Trying all they could to provoke a handful of people standing opposite. Those with their cans of beer, badly-made banners and new trainers fresh from the catalogue. All seemingly oblivious to where they were, let alone understanding why their views have no place in the UK today.
I also attended a demonstration in a south Wales valley, the small industrialised town of Ebbw Vale. A valley I’m familiar with due to having friends there. Yet, when I read a headline “Plans For Protest Against Council Housing Refugee Families”, I thought I needed to understand why there was such strength of feeling from a community that I’ve always known to be made up of kind, warm-hearted people. Despite the poverty around them.
I didn’t take me long to smell bullshit!
A media outlet published that headline to over 178,000 people. A Facebook group with a paltry 50 members called “Welsh Resistance”, which appeared the day before the demo, was the source. True-to-form, I grabbed my camera, set off and joined the counter-demonstration. Faced with plaques from the same, branded organisations I’ve now become accustomed to seeing at such events. If you ever want to buy a Socialist Party paper, these are often available at such gatherings.
The town of Ebbw Vale looked on bemused as strangers descended from all over the south Wales region. The came with placards and chants of “refugees welcome here”. Yet, there was one ingredient missing in all of this: the demonstration we were there to counter-demo. It was all fake!
Your right to demonstrate to counter-demonstrate
While I have many experiences to draw upon, they’re better suited to future articles. I’ll explain how things are not what they seem. As I find my feet fighting for free speech, I must also tread carefully when it comes to libel or comments that could be deemed slanderous. I know already I’ve got the attention of those often behind these sinister activities. I’ve sat amongst the wolves in sheep’s clothing, while plotting has gone on to hijack such demos, and it’s ugly.
So to summarise: I believe it’s your right to counter-demo. But I strongly recommend you don’t do this on the same day as those you’re trying to oppose. If you do, you’re putting yourself in danger – and those around you. Not to mention the added strain on the police.
Always question the motives of others. And research what lays behind the organisations you see all over the country, often using the same branded banners. (I’ll leave the readers to think who they think these could be.) The biggest and the most important bit for me is don’t allow propaganda to talk down you and your country. It’s a dangerous diversion. It’s not race that concerns this country, it’s religion; and the cultural differences that stem from religion.
Read more: Frankenstein’s Monster