Thursday, 3 September 2009

Leaflets, placards, and a fascist with a camera: yet another court hearing for Peter Tierney

The proceedings against Peter Tierney, for assaulting an anti-fascist in Liverpool on St George's Day, continue. As this particular case demonstrates the violent tendencies of even the more high-profile BNP members, anti-fascists on Merseyside have been following it very closely, and will continue to do so until a verdict is reached. Moreover, as this represents pretty much the entire sum of Liverpool BNP's activity, it is vital that we keep up the pressure and show that they are not welcome on our streets.

Today, as I mentioned at the end of last month, Tierney was due in court to enter a plea. Unlike at the arraignment, three local BNP members - including Steve Greenhalgh, who was also involved in the St George's Day incident - were at the court to greet him. Also there were contingents of Liverpool Antifascists and Merseyside Coalition Against Racism and Fascism (MCARF), who were handing out leaflets and letting the public know the true face of the BNP as well as some picketing and chanting.

At the same time Tierney's brother Andrew, also a local BNP member, set up a camera tripod and began to film and take pictures of the antifascists, as well as of the Liverpool Echo photographer there to take pictures of the event for the paper. Whether he thought the photographer was a "red" or not, given the local party's disdain for the paper due to its belief that only praise for the BNP qualifies as free speech, is unclear.

Throughout the course of the morning, the anti-fascists reported getting an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the general public, being able to give out over a thousand leaflets and stopping to engage with more than a few passers-by who wished us good luck or were curious to know more.

Meanwhile, Andrew Tierney continued filming and photographing, at one point crossing over the road so that he was on the same side as the leafleters. When asked by one whether he was with the BNP, he answered affirmatively before adding that he was also "in the media," offering the man a business card for BBCollective Radio, essentially a radio mouthpiece for the BNP on Merseyside, which warns that "while our systems are being tested, these broadcasts will be short and without regularity." What taking pictures and videos of "reds" that will no doubt make an appearance on Stormfront soon enough has to do with "the media" is anyone's guess.

Inside the court, Peter Tierney's lawyer failed to make an appearance, which set the hearing back several hours whilst he met with the day's duty solicitors. Rumours are going around that his first solicitor, before the one who was a no-show, was ditched because he thought that, on the basis of the CCTV evidence, Tierney's only option was to plead guilty. This cannot, unfortunately, be confirmed. However, sources close to both Tierney's hearings and those of the anti-fascist accused of "criminal damage" to a camera (once assault charges were conclusively thrown out, that is) suggest that CCTV footage does utterly contradict the BNP's ever-shifting version of events.

Eventually, Tierney attended his hearing and put in a plea of "not guilty." He is due to attend a committal hearing at the Magistrates Court on October the 29th before facing trial at Liverpool Crown Court, most likely to take place in the new year. Afterwards, he left the court to jeers and heckling from anti-fascists before he was picked up by a black 4x4 and quickly left the scene.

Although there were, again, issues to be addressed with how the event was handled - most of which I covered when writing about the previous protest - overall, the morning went well. Though numbers were ot what they could have been, anti-fascists were able to provide a physical presence in opposition to the BNP at street level and to spread the message to a largely receptive Liverpool public. What is important now is that we not only keep up the pressure on Tierney, to show that we will not stand for violence on our streets, but also to continue organising so that we are able to take on the BNP and other fascists whenever and wherever they emerge.