Friday, 4 November 2011
Crown resurrect charges against Glasgow antifascist
Fourteen moths after a BNP stall in Glasgow city centre was broken up by a mobilisation of dozens of anti-racists and passers-by, the Crown are eventually bringing to court charges against an anti-fascist who they are alleging was a ringleader on the day. Having initially been arrested on November 22 last year, a pretext for a city-centre banning order just two days before the first major student anti-fees demonstration in Glasgow, a court date in December was then dropped. However, just weeks before the charges would've expired this month, they were resurrected with a new court date set for Thursday 17 November.
Following the incident, on Saturday 18 September last year, the six BNP activists who had been manning the stall made a formal complaint to Strathclyde Police. An investigation by the Gangs Taskforce, operating from Baird Street Police Station, was then launched, resulting in the identification and arrest of one suspect. Meanwhile, the BNP launched an online campaign of intimidation and harassment, with the fascist blogosphere and messageboards such as Stormfront going to great lengths to identify anti-fascists who had been present, with details of family members, home addresses and so on being publicised, and retaliatory threats being made against left-wing meetings.
As it stands, the charges are of Breach of the Peace - inciting a 'disorderly crowd that swore, shouted, assaulted BNP members and overturned a table' - and of Theft. The latter charge relates to a BNP banner that was abandoned on Buchanan Street following the incident. Anti-fascists, ensuring that no BNP material was left lying on the street, put the stall's scattered remains inside a litter bin, including the 'Bring Our Troops Home' banner which had adorned the front of the table. This was removed from the bin later on and taken home by an anti-fascist - the accused later featured in a photograph circulated on the internet, which has led to the 'theft' charge.
In choosing to resurrect these charges nearly fourteen months later, the state has made a political decision to side with the fascist thugs of the BNP. The charges rely purely on the testimony of the BNP witnesses, and a BNP-made video of the accused using a mobile phone, supposedly evidence of 'arranging' the later overturning of the stall.
Ironically, little now remains of the Scottish BNP, which has suffered numerous splits over the past few years. Of the BNP witnesses, several have since joined the National Front, including Mike Coyle who contested May's Scottish elections under this banner. Former national organiser, Aberdeen-based Gary Raikes has left to join 'Britain First', while former Glasgow stalwart Charlie Baillie is contesting the Glasgow Hillhead council by-election as the 'Britannica Party' later this month. The BNP's Scottish website, including numerous articles posted about this case, is no longer online. With the far-right fractured and in disarray, in remains to be seen whether they can come together in the same witness stand in this case.