15th Aug, 2009: Thousands of British citizens came together today to disrupt the BNP’s annual ‘Red, White and Blue’ festival. The opening day of the British National Party’s propaganda event in Derbyshire was widely disrupted as protesters blocked roads, physically stopping BNP members and potential recruits from reaching the festival. The day passed with minimal violence, and nine reported arrests.
Coaches left from all over Britain early this morning, to reach Codnor in time to blockade roads leading into the site of the BNP’s festival. Word spread fast that protesters had surrounded the car of French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, preventing him from speaking at the event.
While the largest anti-BNP protest took place in the centre of Codnor, smaller groups of two to three hundred protesters occupied roads leading to the festival, making travel there impossible. The festival is reported to have been seriously disrupted, with BNP leader Nick Griffin having made a complaint to the police that his followers could not make it there.
Many potential attacks were averted by the sheer number of anti-fascist protesters present, with BNP supporters vastly outnumbered and being forced to retreat from confrontation. Protesters were well-disciplined, and linked arms when confronted with the risk of attack by fascists or the police.
Reception from townsfolk was mixed. Many local residents cheered and clapped the passing protesters, with one woman thanking the group for ‘keeping that scum off our streets’. Others were unsympathetic to the protest, and frustrated by the disruption caused. One resident summarizsd the scenario to me by saying: ‘Having the BNP over there is like having a paedophile that lives across the road.
‘You know they’re going to cause trouble if you bother them, so you keep you kids away and leave em alone. That’s what we do. But every year, the protest comes here and causes us all a nuisance.’
Protesters described the day as an unmitigated success. ‘It was the best we could have hoped for’, said Mark, a social worker from London. ‘We ruined a big day for Britain’s openly racist and fascist party.
‘It was truly empowering to see these racists running scared from black, white and Asian British people, who were linking arms and making their voices heard peacefully.’