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Authors and MP back bookshop after attack by ‘mask-wearing fascists’

The attackers were said to have intimidated staff before closing time.

Authors and an MP have expressed solidarity with staff after a socialist bookshop was allegedly attacked by “mask-wearing fascists”.

Bookmarks in Bloomsbury, central London, said the store was targeted by a dozen far right assailants attempting to intimidate customers and staff just before closing on Saturday.

Metropolitan Police officers were called at around 6.35pm to reports of a protest at the store. No arrests were made.

A second call was made “a short time later” telling police the group had caused damage inside the shop.

Police said an appointment was made for officers to speak to the complainant.

A statement from the bookshop posted on Facebook read: “On Saturday evening around 6:45 just as we were closing, Bookmarks was attacked by around a dozen mask wearing fascists.

“They attempted to intimidate staff and customers and to destroy books and materials.

On Saturday evening around 6:45 just as we were closing, Bookmarks was attacked by around a dozen mask wearing...

Posted by Bookmarks the socialist bookshop on Saturday, August 4, 2018

“Fortunately, no one was hurt.”

They added: “We will not let this happen! Never Again”, and said on Twitter “this is the true face of fascism. No Paseran!”.

The statement urged supporters to “send solidarity” to shop staff, in a post that has been shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook and retweeted around 400 times.

A press release issued by anti-racism group Stand Up To Racism claimed some of the attackers held placards which read “British Bolshevik Cult”, while one wore a mask of US President Donald Trump.

A member of staff told the organisation that books on Islamaphobia were “ridiculed and thrown around”.

“They chanted about Muslims and Paedophilia, and called us traitors. While not mentioning Tommy Robinson, the links are there to see,” the worker said.

Stand Up To Racism added that the attackers threatened to return and picked up a copy of The Jewish Question off the shelf, “holding it aloft as proof of the anti-Semitism of the left”.

Michael Bradley, speaking on behalf of the group, said: “Luckily no one was hurt this time, but this is a sinister development that indicates the growing confidence of the far right who feel they can attack a bookshop in central London in broad daylight.

“Attacking a bookshop also exposes their claims to be defenders of free speech as hollow.”

Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq tweeted of the “utterly despicable” incident: “Free speech and independent bookshops – under threat in an age where intolerance and Amazon flourish – should be cherished. Utterly despicable.”

Support also came from singer Billy Bragg, who wrote on Twitter: “Bookmarks socialist bookshop has been attacked by mask wearing fascists. Send them your solidarity”.

His post was shared by children’s author Michael Rosen, while writer Jonathan Coe tweeted “this is shocking”.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), expressed solidarity and added: “Another sinister reminder of the growing confidence of the far right.”

Bookmarks is the TUC’s official bookseller.

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