I spoke to lots of people who took to the streets of Rochester to oppose the fascists of Britain First. What was remarkable was the large variety of local people who turned up to humiliate BF again.
There were different reasons for attending, but everyone seemed to recognise the importance of standing up to racism and fascism in Medway.
Mental health worker Maureen Cleator said she has strong family links in the armed forces. She was angry that Britain First have used their own logo to take money away from charities which actually raise money to support servicemen and women.
She said: “Britain First and others say they are doing this for our armed services. But they are hypocrites. My son was injured in Afghanistan and my brother served in Iraq. Britain First do not speak for me or my family.”
Jamie Couchman said: “I feel anti- Britain First. I think we’re better as a diverse society. I think they [BF] are bringing a message of almost white supremacy.”
Kirsten Dwight, an immigrant to Britain from Alaska, said: “I haven’t been on a demonstration for 20 years. I’m an immigrant myself, though most people won’t think of me as such.
“I don’t get much hassle. It goes to show that when they say the debate about immigration is not about race, it is.”
Jamil Mughal from Rainham carried his placard opposite the gathering of Britain First supporters. He said that the group were trying to whip up hatred over the issue of the construction of a new Mosque.
He said: “Last time Britain First turned up in Rochester they went to our Mosque in Canterbury Street. They tried to go in at a quiet time and were quite thuggish and barged their way in.
“The new Mosque will be open to the community, rather than distancing ourselves. We will have a new gym and community hall for hire.”
In the aftermath of their defeat the fascists have been blaming everyone for opposing them. Amusingly they criticised the police, they blamed the left, the right, and just about everyone.
It shows that when everyone joins together, fascism fails. Rochester has written its own small but nonetheless important chapter in the history of antifascist resistance in Britain.
Did you take part in the antifascist protest? You can share your thoughts and pictures by email: email@example.com
Hundreds of activists took to the streets of Rochester to stand up against the hatred and bigotry of Britain First.
It was the second demonstration in just a fortnight where the fascist group have taken to the streets in Medway to try to raise their nationwide profile.
But once again they were met by determined resistance by people from across Medway and Kent who made sure the fascists had a miserable afternoon in the rain.
The opening skirmish of the day took place in the High Street, where 60 or so hooded Britain First supporters had rallied at the railway station with their by-election candidate Jayda Fransen.
Around 150 had gathered to block their route into the town centre. Among them were Jacqueline Brewer and Maureen Cleator from Maidstone.
Jacqueline said: “I have worked for the NHS for 39 years. If it was not for people of different races working in the health service, then we wouldn’t have one
“Britain First are the thin end of the wedge. They started with Muslims, now they are saying if anyone disagrees with them then they must be anti-British.”
The antifascist presence was made up of a diverse mix of organisations and local people from different ages and ethnic backgrounds.
Sarah Rose, a convert to Islam eight years ago, was holding a banner for Coexist, encouraging all faith groups to work together.
She said: “I live locally in Chatham and I’ve experienced a lot of hatred. People shout racist comments, and call me a ‘bloody foreigner’ and say ‘go back to your own country’, but this is my own country.”
The standoff lasted for an hour as the fascists were unable to force their way through the police lines. Instead they played national anthems on a repetitive loop, and leader Paul Golding tore up a placard depicting Jayda Fransen as a Nazi.
After the police tried to break the antifascist line, they decided to divert BF. The antifascists walked back into Eastgate in the centre of Rochester, where they were greeted with big cheers.
Mr Mughal added: “It’s fantastic to see different members of the community out here to support us. It shows we can support each other.
“Britain First have tried to divide the community but you can see people are against them and want to stand together.”
In the town centre several hundred antifascists had gathered to block the route to the war memorial.
Chants against BF included: “Nazi scum, off our streets” and “Where’ve your leaflets gone” in reference to the decision by Royal Mail to refuse to deliver BF leaflets during the Rochester by-election because they incited racist hatred.
Behind a giant banner Molly Lane stood through the worst of the weather. She said: “Britain First say they speak for Rochester, but most of us on this side are from Rochester.
“It’s a great turnout and we’ve had more publicity about it than two weeks ago.”
By the end, the sorry crew of Britain First supporters looked like a shite gardening company in their uniform green hooded tops.
They have more insult to injury after losing their popular Facebook group with 550,000 ‘likes’ and then discovering the Queen has launched a copyright investigation because of their use of the crown logo.
It will undoubtedly go down as a humiliation for Britain First. They have been denied the chance to have a publicity stunt during the ongoing Rochester and Strood by-election, and in the process also denied a chance to present themselves as a respectable group in British politics.
My name is Aidan Barlow, and I'm a journalist from the south east of England. During my day job I work for the KM Group reporting stories online and finding stories in Canterbury and Herne Bay in Kent.
This blog however is a personal project to allow me to continue to write for a hobby. So at this point I think it could include opinion articles, features, and news reports on issues I find interesting.
As a person, I used to hold strong left wing political views. But while still holding principles, I have mellowed. I am no longer the placard waving protester I used to be.
I'm gay, aged 24 (nearly 25), with hobbies including running, swimming, watching my beloved Everton play football, and playing poker.
I have broad topical interests in news, politics, the environment, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, and people's campaigns for justice.
My old blog was called The Red Needle, but now it is has been left to drift in the depths of cyberspace as I can no longer log into it. It was more overtly political, but now I feel it is time to try something different.
If you have a story you'd like to talk to me about, get in touch. I'm always keen to meet new people and listen to your stories and hopefully then write them or tell them in a compelling way.
To contact me you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org