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Neo-Nazis outnumbered at protest

Published 04/07/2015

Police have moved the 'anti-Shomrim' demonstration away from the strongly-Jewish community of Golders Green
Police have moved the 'anti-Shomrim' demonstration away from the strongly-Jewish community of Golders Green

Neo-Nazis were massively outnumbered by counter-demonstrators as they staged a protest in central London today.

A small number of right-wingers took part in a demonstration against the Shomrim, a Jewish neighbourhood watch group.

Their numbers in Whitehall were dwarfed by counter-demonstrators as they made speeches through a megaphone from behind a line of police.

The demo was originally due to be held in the strongly Jewish community of Golders Green, north-west London, but was confined to a static demonstration in Whitehall.

The handful of neo-Nazis were targeted with chants of "Nazi scum - off our streets" as they chanted "Shomrim - off our streets".

Dave Rich, of the Community Security Trust, a charity which protects British Jews from anti-semitism and related threats, said before the protest: "The demonstration has been moved which we are very pleased about. We will still be having a security presence in Golders Green just in case anybody does turn up.

"We are not aware of any plans to do so but we are covering all eventualities."

The Metropolitan Police decided to impose conditions under the Public Order Act 1986, including moving the original demonstration, saying "the presence of this protest group, and resultant counter-protests by opposition groups in the same area at the same time, is likely to result in serious disorder, serious disruption to the life of the community and the intimidation of others".

They said senior officers do not have the legal power to ban a static protest, have a duty to safeguard the right to protest and cannot impose unreasonable restrictions upon that right.

The outrage sparked by the plans for the original neo-Nazi demonstration quickly led to a campaign dubbed Golders Green Together (GGT).

It was set up by the London Jewish Forum and Hope Not Hate after the neo-Nazis announced their intention to hold a rally in the London suburb to protest against its "jewification".

Over recent weeks GGT has leafleted the area, lobbied MPs and the police, and urged local shops to drape their properties with gold and green banners and ribbons as a symbol of defiance.

Mr Rich said: "For neo-Nazis to hold an explicitly anti-Jewish demonstration in Golders Green in the heart of the Jewish community on a Saturday, the Sabbath when Jewish people would be going to and from the synagogue, would obviously be intimidatory and cause offence - which is probably what it was intended to do.

"The neo-Nazis can still have their demonstration."

At the end of the protest, the 20 or so neo-Nazis were escorted to Westminster Tube station by large numbers of officers.

Many of the hundreds of counter protesters followed them, hurling abuse, and one of them urged one of the neo-Nazis to leave his escort to fight with him.

When it became clear the right-wingers were being escorted down steps and towards the station, one of the pursuers adapted the cry "Nazi scum - off our streets" to "Nazi scum - off our Tubes".

Officers accompanied the neo-Nazis through the barrier and towards the trains.

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