Hundreds protest at UK far-right party summer camp
CODNOR, England |
CODNOR, England (Reuters) - Hundreds of demonstrators waving anti-racism flags marched through a village in central England on Saturday in protest against the far-right British National Party's annual summer camp.
Police arrested 19 people during the mainly peaceful rally near a farm outside the Derbyshire village of Codnor where the BNP's Red, White and Blue festival was taking place.
The BNP, which campaigns to halt immigration and repatriate immigrants voluntarily, and for Britain to withdraw from the European Union, won its first two seats in the European Parliament in June.
Protesters marched past bemused residents towards the festival chanting "the BNP is a Nazi party, smash the BNP" before being stopped at a police roadblock.
Four men were arrested when some demonstrators tried to push past a barrier of police backed by horses, dogs and vehicles.
Most of the arrests were made for demonstrating outside the police-controlled area around the camp but police said the majority of demonstrators were peaceful and co-operative. There were 34 arrests at last year's event.
"This may look like a nice picnic in the park but that's really the opposite of what it is," said Graham Martin of the York branch of the Unite Against Fascism group. "It's a place where they intend to launch their cultural assault as well as their political one."
Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, told Reuters from the event the protesters could not be heard from the site but he said party supporters had difficulty reaching the location.
Some BNP supporters were forced to cross fields on foot under police escort to reach the venue.
"They have got every right to have a peaceful protest ... but it's a cynical ploy to try and get bad publicity for us," Darby said.
Some residents joined the march but others complained about having to pay the policing bill, which last year amounted to 250,000 pounds ($400,000) and could cost twice that this year.
The BNP has no representation in the British parliament but has gained support among some white voters angry about unemployment and access to public housing and other services during the worst recession for generations.
However, mainstream politicians have poured scorn on the BNP, accusing its members of being racists who sympathise with the policies of Nazi Germany.
(Editing by Andrew Dobbie)
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