Fights broke out at an anti-fascist protest this afternoon, after members of the BNP staged a demonstration against immigration outside the UK Border Agency’s Lunar House immigration centre in Croydon.
Bob Bailey, BNP councillor for Barking and Dagenham, spoke to a small crowd of BNP supporters outside the centre. He said that ‘immigration is one of the biggest problems facing Britain today,’ and added that the laws on immigration needed to be drastically reversed. Anti-fascist protesters dismissed his speech as ‘lies’ and chanted ‘BNP off our streets’.
Some fifty anti-fascist demonstrators came out to counter the protest, organised by the Public and Commercial Services Union and Unite Against Fascism. Mark Serwotka, General Secretary for the PCS, said his union represented many people who worked inside the building and he felt that a counter-protest was needed in order to show solidarity and support for Border Agency employees. “We represent people inside the building, 50% of whom are black and minority staff and we don’t think it’s right for them to see racists chanting outside,” he said.
One of the anti-fascist protesters urged people to vote in order to ensure the BNP stays out of power, and said claims that immigrants are taking council houses is a myth: “The reason there is a strain on public services is because we haven’t got enough investment in them, it’s nothing to do with immigration,” she said.
Charlotte Lewis, a BNP candidate standing in Carshalton and Wallington, said that people needed to “open their eyes and see that the country is losing its identity”. Ms Lewis said that immigration should be stopped completely to ensure that the indigenous population of Britain is supported. “I’m talking about people that can trace their heritage back thousands of years, 80% of English people can do that – these are the indigenous people.”
Police handcuffed an anti-fascist protester in a scuffle which ended abruptly. Croydon ex Tory MP, Andrew Pelling, who is standing as in independent in this election said: “I think the BNP do pose a challenge to Croydon. They are targeting wards in Croydon and we have to send a message to say that Croydon is a place of tolerance.”
For footage of the protest see our featured video.