Hundreds of people attended an anti-fascism demonstration in Southampton after the South Coast Resistance group announced plans to demonstrate in the city last Saturday.
Also known as “Pie ‘N Mash”, the squad behind the anti-immigration event, describe themselves as “a group of people who love Pie n Mash and Britain the way it used to be” and said they would hold a demonstration in the city. Posting on social media, they encouraged demonstrators to “join us to celebrate Brexit and an end to mass immigration”.
After the hard-right group said it would protest under the banner of “refugees not welcome”, a counter demonstration was organised for the same time by Southampton ANTIFA and Southampton Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, under the banner of “refugees welcome”.
Outside the Bargate, spread out on the tarmac, a throng of activists chatted and listened to the speakers, carrying placards, toting flags, and shouting slogans that promoted messages of tolerance. Representatives from local parties and unions called for unity.
The South Coast Resistance demonstration was supposed to come up through the centre of town, but ended up being swiftly escorted to the railway station by police.
The demonstration came after Eid celebrations in Southampton were cancelled over security concerns. Thousands had been expected to attend a prayer event to celebrate the end of Ramadan, but the demonstration, alongside the rise of xenophobic hate crime in post-Brexit Britain, had prompted British Bangladesh Cultural Academy (BBCA) to cancel the event.
Speaking about the event on Facebook, Union President Alex Hovden said:
Let me make this clear: those fleeing war and conflict should always be welcome here. I’m proud to live and work in a country where we show people with such backward views as the far right wing group that their ignorance and hatred is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
This affair comes around a growing sense of xenophobia, with increasing incidents of hate crime being reported within the UK.