Our own Theodore Dalrymple writes of his ordeal when protestors attacked a Public Speaking Festival at the Church Hall in the quiet Sussex town of Lewes recently.
Lewes is only a stones throw from Brighton where the patriotic group March for England used to hold an annual St George's Day parade which came under increasing violent attack from the same organisations or viewpoint that attacked Katie Hopkins and those either sharing a platform with her or intending to listen to her in the church hall in Lewes last week.
I can't link at the moment through the NER archives to any of my several reports of the years I observed violence and vile abuse in Brighton. However this report from a friend who was inside the parade in 2012, (I always observed from outside) the year violence hit a new low, will give you an idea that this sort of thing is nothing new and has been experienced by patriotic groups for a good 8 years now.
When the March did start, we didn’t get too far before being brought to a halt in a street where the pavements were raised above the level of the road that we were proceeding down. The counter protesters had blocked the road off ahead, and we got our first taste of the abusive language and missile throwing that was to follow us to the assembly point at Victoria Gardens and back to the station afterwards.
We found out afterwards that recycling bins had been emptied and that the protesters had been hurling bottles and other assorted missiles at the Police and their horses at the front of the parade, as can be seen in some of the images. I witnessed this myself - my husband took this photograph of the protestors moving the glass recycling bins into a better position.
Two Police officers were taken to hospital, and a number of Police horses were injured as was reported later by The Brighton Argus.
With the march unable to proceed past a makeshift road block, the Police took us down a side road where we found more abuse waiting for us. Bottles of urine were launched from the buildings above, and a wall of missiles could be seen flying in to the middle of the march from a side street. I was at the back of the march at this point, and as we were bunched up by the Officers at the back I could see that we were being herded in to the firing line from the side street that the Police on the left were unsuccessfully trying to stop.
A young girl in front of me was hit in the back of the head by a flying bottle and needed treatment by paramedics whilst a couple of officers tried to shield her from more harm. The gentleman escorting her, who I believe was her father, was given the opportunity to take her out of the march at this point but declined as there was no way of guaranteeing that he would be able to get past the ranks of counter demonstrators without further assaults being made.
A number of megaphones were calling out and organising these attacks – Indeed, one behind the march was encouraging people to ‘get more missiles, they are putting the kids in the middle’. When I pointed out to one of the officers that this is an offence under the public order act and he should be arrested, I was advised that they were taking photos and would be making arrests after the event as any show of force at this point could lead to additional violence.Bearing in mind that many of the protesters had their faces covered and could not be identified, I couldn’t help but think that the main perpetrators would get away scot free. ...
We were then advised that the speeches were cancelled due to security considerations, and that we would be escorted back to the National Rail station where we should leave Brighton.
The Police brought vans across, and we were escorted out of the park behind the line of vehicles to stop the demonstrators getting to us once again. ..Unfortunately, the respite didn’t last for long and we were harried all the way back to the station by the motley collection of ‘anti-fascists’ with more missiles thrown.
I have every sympathy for the terrified attendees at a book and public speaking event. Maybe now a different strata of British society is targeted attitudes towards such violence to stifle free speak and impose othodoxy will change.
Put the word out that masked folk will be shot on sight, and then follow-up accordingly. Police and peaceful civilians ought not to be threatened with bodily harm, nor mobs of one or more to walk or run amok.
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