Bolton, Brutality and Lies

This post was written by Dan on March 22, 2010
Posted Under: News,Police,Racism/Fascism

Saturday’s anti-EDL demonstration in Bolton has attracted a great deal of comment around the blogosphere and in the media. Much of it nasty, outright lies and smears, some of it genuine debate about the kind of tactics we need in the future. I’m not going to comment much on the discussion of tactics right now (though the most important thing we need in future is more people, especially from the trade unions and local communities). I want to focus on the shameful behaviour of Greater Manchester Police, and their subsequent attempts to smear anti-fascists.

According to the Police “The number of arrests made is a clear indication that this is not a peaceful protest and some demonstrators are determined to cause trouble”. It is nothing of the sort, it is an indication of a wound up police force intend on creating disorder and making arrests.

The Police were in a confrontational and agressive mood from the beginning. When I arrived, with a group from Liverpool, they immediately confronted someone with us, for no clear reason. When I went over to ask why, a second police officer barelled into me to push me away.  As the demonstration grew in size, the police began to kettle us in. Some attempts were made by people to break out of the kettle. From this point onwards the police became violent and belligerent. They sent several groups into the demonstration to arbitrarily arrest individuals. Realising this the demonstration linked arms to prevent further arrests. Instead of backing off, riot police continued to try to force their way into the demonstration to make arrests. In the course of this I:

  • Was struck several times by police officers in the face, neck and chest and kicked between the legs.
  • Witnessed a clearly enraged police officer tear down a union banner held by a 60 year old woman, causing injury to her.
  • Witnessed other people being struck harder than I was.
  • Was dragged out of the crowd by my nose and arrested.

I have since heard reports of the following:

  • A student being struck over the head and needing staples in his scalp, who was also forced to sit in A and E with 3 members of the EDL constantly abusing him whilst he waited.
  • A young man arrested at the same time as me being told as he was arrested “I recognise you, you queer, you’re not so tough without all your friends around are you?”.
  • An 89 yr old WW2 veteran being knocked to the ground.
  • The arrest of the main organisers of the demonstration on extremely serious charges.

I want to emphasise that I saw nothing on the day that justifies this level of violent policing. I was arrested whilst merely linking arms with others and peacefully holding ground. Everyone else I saw who was arrested was doing the same. The police created a riot on Saturday.

It sounds like things improved greatly, when a group of local asian kids were able to join the demonstration, and the EDL were driven off. This is important.

To all anti-fascists: There are real debates to be had about the correct strategy to go forward, I am happy to have them. But we should unite in our condemnation of the behaviour of Greater Manchester Police that day. Anything less is shameful.

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Reader Comments


I was there with the London group. The police were looking for a fight from the begining. I was arrested within about 20 minutes of arriving – i think it was the point at which i started chanting “Shame on you, Shame on you” at the riot police with their rabid alsatians that i was hit and dragged off. Even the other police at the event seemed pretty pissed off with how the riot squad were handling things, it was a disgrace.

Written By Kam on March 22nd, 2010 @ 11:58 am

Quite right, the police behaved disgracefully. Their decision to criticize anti-fascists – but not the EDL – on the BBC, making no mention of glass bottles thrown by EDL members, or any EDL violence at all, is also pretty disgusting, if not at all surprising.

The most encouraging thing about saturday was, as you said, the large group of asian youths gleefully standing up to the fascists. I’ve never seen a group of bald, middle-aged racists run so fast in my life.

All together now: ‘we had joy, we had fun, we had nazis on the run / but the joy didn’t last / ‘cos the b*****ds ran so fast’. :)

Written By Nick on March 22nd, 2010 @ 3:01 pm
Roger Duffy

Would it be worth, and I’m thinking aloud here, letting the EDL do a demonstration without UAF attending? In principle a counter-demonstration is entirely valid, but what are we expecting the EDL to do if left unchecked? Many policemen have EDL-type sympathies, but many do not, and I’d guess the vast majority of them value their own sense of authority ie in the prevention of anti-social behaviour ‘on their watch’. The EDL have a right to protest freely, and I’m pretty sure they’d come across far worse if left to their own devices. Shouldn’t we give them the rope to hang themselves instead of only showing them next to the UAF who, by nature of being protesty-types, already have little sympathy from the majority of the British public?

Written By Roger Duffy on March 22nd, 2010 @ 6:28 pm
Roger Duffy

Sorry, by ‘protesty-types’ I mean tending towards being left-wingers. The EDL and BNP seek to draw immigration-related votes from a sector of the population which isn’t actually dyed-in-the-wool racist. This sector know full well the BNP isn’t their cup of tea because Griffin has been exposed as a racial supremacist. Yet these people also veer away from protest on the whole: by allowing the EDL to protest alone, it is THEM who take the blame for any disruption, it is THEM who take the blame for any violence, and it is THEM who come across as the boat-rocking extremists. No?

Written By Roger Duffy on March 22nd, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

Roger: I see what your saying, but the “give them rope to hang themselves” approach only works to discourage people who are put off by the idea of trashing asian shops and beating up thier proprietors and customers, whereas the EDL are recruiting from people who are encouraged by such actions.

On the subject of the police I can only point to history. The police have never been the slightest use before in preventing the rise of fascist groups, and I don’t see the point in relying for them for the future. Even if they did arrest a handfull of the EDL who create the most obvious disturbance, this would not hurt the EDL nearly as much, and they would be powerless prevent the rise in racist violence that inevitably surrounds such events.

Written By Michael on March 22nd, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

Also, we have a direct responsibility to prevent ANY violence against immigrants. This really should have been my first response.

Written By Michael on March 22nd, 2010 @ 7:08 pm
George Martin

I was there at from 10.45 to the very end. The EDLs small minded chanting was minor compared to the actions of The Greater Manchester Police at the behest of their New Labour masters.
I think we would be better off organising against the bastards who attacked us rather than the pathetic flag wavers they were protecting.

Written By George Martin on March 23rd, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

It always saddens me to hear stories like this, I think less for how unsurprising it is than for the actual events themselves. The police are yet another shining example of the sad state of affairs where those who seek power are those least suited to wield it. Sorry to hear you were abused by thugs in uniform.

Written By Mark Michael Anthony on March 23rd, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

I’ve got news for “Nick”. I too was there and the UAF- Union of Archetypal Fascists – threw the first and only bottle. Apparently it was filled with pee. Is that meant to be some kind of islamic insult?

All you ranting ignoramuses, why don’t you sit down and read the koran, from cover to cover – really learn the truth, instead of bleating inane lies?

Or are you afraid of what you’ll find?

You are all “useful idiots”!

Written By juniper on March 24th, 2010 @ 12:14 am

Hey Dan,

Totally agree that the treatment by the police was absolutely shocking. Me and Owen were in the group that had broken off/been forced apart from the main protest, as we got there late (accident on the motorway) and the police seemed okay there, but after hearing the stories and seeing the videos from the day, I’m totally horrified.

And as for the reports from the police chief of operations that the EDL were very well behaved, well… 1, 2, 1 2 3, how many cops in the BNP?

I agree that the debate about tactics needs to be had, but to the commenter above: the solution is definitely not to allow the EDL to protest without opposition; this is fine for us – we get a nice day off protesting – but what about the Muslim communities in whichever area they decide to terrorise next? If we abandon protesting the EDL, then we abandon our support for those Muslim communities. Bolton was like a ghost town, and we need fighting for people’s rights to come out on the street without fear.

Written By Elly on March 24th, 2010 @ 9:17 am

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