Some neo-Nazis are expected to be in Bristol city centre this Saturday. Anti-fascist groups have called a counter-demonstration.
Far-right groups are planning a demonstration in Bristol this Saturday, 4th of March. The event is billed on social media as a “demo, aimed at highlighting the outrageous sentence handed to a loyal patriot and family man, Kevin ‘Bunny’ Crehan”.
Crehan, from Knowle, died in Horfield prison following a conviction alongside three others for a religiously aggravated public order offense after throwing bacon at Totterdown Mosque last year. There is an ongoing inquiry into the cause of Crehan’s death, which police are not treating as suspicious.
While Saturday’s lunchtime demonstration outside Bristol Crown Court may see a mix of groups and people, Cable research on online networks shows that also planning to attend are some hardcore nationalists and booted fascists.
In early February on the Facebook event page “Bristol Demo” a post saying “So, who is coming?” got 16 ‘likes’ and 14 users responding positively. People commented such things as “Game on”, “Play time” “Try and keep me away from this one NS [No Surrender]”, “South Wales EDL [English Defence League] will be there in numbers” and, “Oh yes, still sorting details but know a good few others, most of who were out last time and a few more!”
The last of these comments was posted by a Facebook user whose profile features Crehan (in grey hoodie and baseball cap) standing over an injured alleged anti-fascist protester, with the comment “Bunny taking on Antifa after the Bristol demo babs, think he put three in hospital on his own! Great lad now gone! X”.
On this profile, in amongst the Protestant nationalist photos and memorials to murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby, is picture of about 30 people with at least 3 performing the Nazi salute alongside British, Polish, and English Volunteer Force (EVF) flags. The EVF is also promoting the demonstration on social media.
The demonstration is co-hosted by local far-right group the South West Infidels and the Pie ‘n’ Mash Squad. The former’s Facebook page is a constant stream of articles by the Daily Express, right wing memes and just about anything to stoke anti-immigrant feelings. The latter, Pie N Mash (slang for fascist), is the latest formation of a militant street-based group with a presence at most major national far-right actions. The demonstration has also been endorsed by the English Defence League.
As with all political groups there is diversity of positions, in this case in how far rightwing the stated supporters are. Bearing in mind the obvious limits of what can be gleaned from public profiles on Facebook, of the 33 members of the South West Infidels Youth Division, including Crehan, show this mix. There are profiles that show no obvious signs of far right leanings, alongside violent threats to anti-fascists and a profile picture displaying the logo of Blood and Honour, a militant neo-nazi group taking its name from the Hitler Youth motto.
Although Crehan claimed that he wasn’t a Nazi, he was clearly involved with and supportive of far-right politics. According to the South Bristol Voice, during the trial for the Totterdown Mosque attack the court heard that in 2008 Crehan racially abused an Asian police officer at Broadbury Road police station, after he was arrested at his home during a domestic disturbance. Crehan said he was high on alcohol and drugs at the time but had since given both up. Crehan also admitted that he had a long line of offences including crimes associated with football hooliganism. As he was handed a 12 month sentence, Crehan shouted, “This is what f**king England’s come to”.
Despite counting experienced fascists among their numbers, recent public far-right activity in Bristol has been limited to small demonstrations and attempted attacks on anti-racist meetings.
A mixture of overwhelming police responses, a fractured far-right losing ground to anti-immigration parties like UKIP and consistent and confrontational opposition by anti-racist groups has led to this apparent weakness. However, as reported by the Cable hate crime is rising in Bristol, and the mainstreaming of race-based politics may lead to an emboldened movement.
Bristol based anti-fascists have called a counter demonstration to meet at Castle Park bandstand at 11:30am on Saturday 4th of demonstration.
Avon & Somerset Police said:
“Our main priorities are the safety of the public and the facilitation of peaceful protests. A well-rehearsed policing plan is in place to achieve this. We want to keep disruption to the public to a minimum and have been proactively engaging with the protestors, local businesses and the wider community prior to [Saturday’s] events. Public safety is our top priority and officers will robustly deal with anyone who engages in significant anti-social behaviour or disorder.”