Friday, 24 April 2009

BNP activists assault anti-fascists in Liverpool City Centre

The current run towards the European Parliamentary Elections on June 4th has seen the BNP, whose leader Nick Griffin is vying for a position as MEP of the North West, revert to type. The thuggery and campaigns of intimidation used by the party before Griffin's "reformation" are well known, and in recent months the public has seen that they still persist. To the BNP, "change" means nothing more than covering up your actions better.

The latest such incident took place yesterday, when Liverpool BNP activists leafleted the City Centre for St George's Day. Angry at being routed by a hastily-organised counter-leafleting by local anti-fascists, Peter Tierney, co-owner of the Quiggins shopping centre, local organiser Steve Greenhalgh, and an as yet unidentified third man attacked the group, one of the victims being hospitalised by Tierney after an attack with a camera tripod.

What follows is a statement from Liverpool Students Against Racism and Fascism (LSARF) on the incident;
BNP Thugs Take to the Streets of Liverpool and Assault Local Anti-Fascists

Yesterday, April 23rd, saw fifteen members of Liverpool BNP members take to the streets of our city again. As word got around that they were leafleting on Church Street, around 12.30pm, local anti-fascists did what they could to mobilise people (not the easiest thing to do mid-week, mid afternoon!). By 1pm there was around twenty anti-fascists leafleting in and around the BNP, making it loud and clear what the BNP stood for, and why people shouldn’t tolerate their presence. This was met by the standard bellowing of ‘get a wash’ and ‘get a job’ from the BNP only serving to further alienate members of the public, from whom they were already getting short shrift.

Before long it became clear that as well as their suited and booted ‘activists’, the BNP had a number of thugs dispersed in the crowd who were taking it in turns to try and intimidate both anti-fascists and uninvolved passers by. This was on top of their standard motley crew of camera men who were systematically patrolling the crowd and filming anybody who showed opposition to their presence.

At around 1.30pm the BNP realised that they were getting nowhere, packed up their stall and moved of towards St. Georges Hall, the site of recent BNP rallies in the city. By the time anti-fascist activists arrived they had set up their stall in St. Johns Garden to the rear of the hall, and once again began leafleting. Anti-fascists responded by striking up conversations with other people in the Gardens and handing out our leaflets. After five minutes the BNP decided they had been beaten once again and got together to leave the gardens. Two anti-fascists ran ahead to get out on to the road in front where they could continue ensuring that the public knew the truth about the fascist organisation.

At this point three of the BNP members, Peter Tierney, Steve Greenhalgh and an as yet unidentified man, decided that they’d had enough of being routed from their chosen leafleting spots, and unleashed a vicious assault on the two who had run in front. Peter Tierney, armed with a folded camera tripod, used his weapon to hit one man around the head, splitting it open. Steve Greenhalgh turned his paste table on its edge and began to use it as a weapon in much the same way that riot police were doing with their shields at the G20 protests, and the third man went in with fists and boots narrowly missing one activists face. On realising the seriousness of the assault Steve Greenhalgh (thought to be Liverpool BNP’s local organiser) then quickly began ushering his minions, some whom clearly hadn’t quenched their blood-thirst, out of the gardens. The group were followed closely by anti-fascists until they left the gardens, ensuring no repeat attack could take place.

In the aftermath of the attack three anti-fascists left the scene together, deliberately going in the opposite direction to the BNP. However, as they rounded a corner they saw the fascists talking to a group of police. Not wishing a further confrontation, the activists walked past, only for the police to run towards them and inform one of them that Peter Tierney (the perpetrator of the armed attack, left) had made a complaint of assault against him. Without any chance to defend himself, the activist, who was showing no sign of resistance, was cuffed and arrested on suspicion of assault. Police then took over half an hour to take seriously the report that it was in fact the BNP who had launched a vicious attack on anti-fascists. The falsely imprisoned anti-fascist then spent nine hours in custody in the same police station as Tierney, with police telling other comrades that he was in a different station. As a result when the man was released from custody , wearing only distinctive custody issue tracksuit clothing, he was followed by a car full of BNP activists who threatened ‘we know where you live, we’re going to fucking kill you’.

Despite the attack, the day was on the whole successful. Anti-fascists prevented the BNP from having free reign on the streets of Liverpool, seeing that the BNP’s vile politics did not go unchallenged. In the end the BNP were unable to control themselves and showed the public what they are really about: ‘defending rights for whites with well placed boots and fists’ in the words of their chairman Nick Griffin. Once again, Merseyside Police showed themselves to be entirely biased towards the BNP, not only responding to a false claim only made to deflect attention from the fascist attacks, but putting an activist in serious danger by holding him at the same station as Tierney and failing to ensure his safety upon being released.

This is the clearest example yet in Merseyside that the BNP are not simply an far-right racist party, but a fascist organisation who rely on violence when all the cards down. This story must be publicised to its full extent in the run up to the June 4th Euro-Elections in which Griffin is standing as candidate for the North-West. The activist who was injured is now recovering following hospital treatment, and the activist who was arrested has been bailed until July 21st and banned from the city centre. Messages of solidarity can be sent to (Liverpool Students Against Racism and Fascism)

***Update - 28/04/09***

Since the original incident, Merseyside BNP has tried to control the damage by spinning the story the other way. On their blog, they claim that "psychotic unwashed leftists, trade unionists and Labour supporters" (good to know how contemptuously they view the city's proudworking-class, trade-unionist history) are responsible for the violence, which "forced the BNP members to defend themselves."

Obviously, this story didn't wash with anybody beyond the party faithful, as their next post attacks the Liverpool Echo as "disgraceful" for telling a story that does not fit in with the BNP orthodoxy of claiming victimhood even whilst in attack-mode.

Their negative comparison of the Echo to The Sun will also go down well with a city still healing the wounds caused by that paper's lies over Hillsborough, no doubt.