Freedom News

Anti-fascists confront white nationalist rally in Leeds

Anti-fascists from the Yorkshire branch of Football Lads and Lasses Against Fascism (FLAF) confronted a white nationalist demonstration in Leeds on Saturday, leading to chaotic infighting between the fascists.

The demonstration, which began as an isolated callout and was rapidly piggybacked by fascist group Patriotic Alternative, was held outside the Britannia Hotel in Seacroft on the outskirts of Leeds. One of a number across the country used for the housing of asylum seekers, the hotel was the focus of a previous demonstration on the 7th of this month when a small group of racists stood in the rain holding a banner for twenty minute before retreating to a nearby pub.

Saturday’s protest attracted a larger crowd of around a hundred, with Patriotic Alternative backed up by North West Infidels, Yorkshire Patriots, and a number of familiar faces from the BNP and National Front. Police presence was heavy from the outset, with a number of units stationed around the area well before the widely publicised start time of 2pm. Despite aspirations from the fascists of rallying in an army of support from the surrounding estate, most locals kept their distance and watched on in bemusement.

Mark Collet of Patriotic Alternative

Two anti-fascist groups turned out in opposition. The first, an anonymous group decked out in black bloc, were soon kettled behind the bushes surrounding the hotel, a place deemed a safe enough distance from the main demonstration by the police. The second group, FLAF Yorkshire, managed to get better acquainted with the fascists. Entering the area through the estate, their nondescriptly clothed number quickly picked up a police escort. Despite holding a very visible banner proclaiming their stance against fascism, the police were visibly confused as to who these masked protesters were. Ignoring the pleadings of spotters from the Football Lads Alliance that the newcomers were in fact “antifas,” the officers broke ranks and allowed the group to walk through the underpass to the main demonstration unchallenged. A stern talking to about the fascists’ lack of welcome in Yorkshire seemed to be on the cards.

As the group approached, about 5 metres away from the demonstration the penny finally dropped for both police and protestors alike that the oncoming group were not in fact fellow fascists. The group were rapidly confronted by a wall of police, rushing to halt them in the middle of the road and holding up a queue of traffic. A few empty beer cans were thrown from the demonstration, missing their targets and instead hitting the stalled cars, much to the annoyance of their passengers. Due mostly to the fact that half of them were pissed drunk, confusion amongst the fascist ranks and a lack of knowledge of their comrades resulted in a few cases of friendly fire. One Patriotic Alternative livestream showed a masked assailant, beer can in hand, getting knocked to the ground by the cameraman. Another brawl broke out behind them, with both scrappers rapidly whipped away by the police.

With the officers in disarray and still reeling from their glaring error, FLAF were pushed back to the underpass, where they were kettled until a flustered commander allowed them to walk off. After a few rambling speeches from Patriotic Alternative organiser Mark Collett failed to rouse even the staunchest of his support, a bored looking crowd packed up their flimsy stage and left.

Home to a large Muslim population, for decades West Yorkshire has been a self-proclaimed stronghold for the far-right. Once described by head bozo Nick Griffin as the “jewel in the crown” of the BNP, the EDL, British Movement, and far-right terrorist group National Action have all laid claim to the area. Yet, evident by the uninspired turnout on Saturday and the large number of supporters bussed in from across the country, the supposed success of Yorkshire’s fascist scene is failing to translate into boots on the ground. Groups like FLAF, whose growing membership consists of defiant locals coming together in defence of their own, show the Yorkshire community won’t tolerate fascist hatred on their home soil.

Statement from Football Lads and Lasses Against Fascism Yorkshire:

We are just working class football fans living in the local community who do not want the likes of PA jumping on community issues in order to recruit people into dangerous and extremist views.

PA are on notice, we stand ready to oppose and remove them from our community at every turn they make.

We call on other working class people and football fans in the community of Leeds to reach out to us on our social media and together, as a united working class, we will eradicate fascism from our community.

Image: FLAF arriving

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