This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
On Saturday, a bunch of fascists from Britain and beyond gathered on Newcastle's Quayside to hold a " White Man March"—a demonstration of White Pride and Jew-hating organized by the neo-Nazi group National Action. The event saw some racist speeches being made, some flags being burned, and some fascists getting arrested.
As is usual with these sorts of things, the Nazis were met by an equal number of anti-fascists who'd turned up to counter their demonstration. As the anti-fascist group gathered around their banner, which read, "Smash the White Man March," bemused passersby strolled past on their way to the shops or the Newcastle United match happening up the road. I asked a passing guy where the march was, and he said, "No idea, I'm just here to watch football. Please don't trash our car."
It didn't take long before a group of five Nazis strolled past the anti-fascists, scouting out their opposition. There was an uneasy stand off, with neither side seeming too keen to confront the other, possibly because there were a fair few cops about—I spotted at least 12 riot vans close by.
About half an hour later, more Nazis began to arrive for the march, which was in fact a static demonstration. In case the name of the demo didn't make it clear, the event was really, really openly racist, in a way not seen in this country for a very long time—it was the most extreme Nazi demo seen in Britain in years.
Many of them were carrying flags with slogans like "White Pride" and "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children"—the "14 words," a slogan used by Nazis and derived from Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Approximately 100 of them finally gathered 300 feet away from the anti-fascist group—the two sides separated by four police lines.
The fascist rally was a hotchpotch of people from different British Nazi groups—National Action, the National Front, The British Voice, and the British Movement, among others.
Also present were members of the Polish nationalist party "Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski (NOP)" (National Rebirth of Poland). NOP is a fascist and homophobic party that is notorious for using campaign slogans such as "Fascism? We are worse" and "Faggotry Forbidden." It seems weird that some Polish nationalists would be hanging out with the devotees of a man who killed millions of their countrymen, but I guess logical consistency has never been a fascist strong point.
The Nazi crowd chanted "Sieg Heil!" "White power!" and other racist slogans, while the anti-fascists shouted "Alerta, alerta, antifascista!" and one woman shouted, "you're the bad ones, you're the naughty boys." Some aggressive shouting was as confrontational as it got at the scene of the march, with the police keeping the groups separate. However, rumors doing the rounds on social media suggest that some Nazis got beaten up outside a pub away from the main event.
The Nazis made a few speeches, covering all kinds of racist ideology and conspiracy theories. Speakers were applauded for explaining why the "White man" was the "supreme race," or how Muslims were "pimping out our daughters" and asking, "If Muslims are peaceful, how come IS means Islamic State?"
The event reached its nadir when one of the speakers started talking about how paper money was the root of all evil, quickly heading into anti-Semitic conspiracy theory when he said the world was run by Jewish bankers. Someone pulled out an Israeli flag and lit it on fire while the speaker was shouting, "Yes, burn Satan!" The group then proceeded to burn a rainbow and a Che Guevara flag and then stomped the burning pieces on the ground. Another Israel flag was torn to shreds.
This proved to be a bad idea. The march ended with nine arrests, with all the flag burning and racist speeches being seen as incitement to racial hatred. The remaining fascists disappeared as quickly as they had arrived and the Quayside was back to normal. A couple smoking outside a bar a few feet away told me that they hadn't even noticed what had been going on.
The arrests and rumored beatings taken by fascists haven't stopped National Action chalking up the event as a historic victory. The anti-fascists, too, are claiming they won, with both sides insisting that the other side is secretly embarrassed. I guess it's hard to gauge the embarrassment threshold of a bunch of guys who spend their time talking about how much they love Hitler. Newcastle had seen the biggest openly Nazi demonstration in the UK for some time. On the one hand, that's quite concerning, but then again, the biggest Nazi march for ages wasn't really that big.
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