A Scottish Defence League rally attended by the National Front, the Scottish Nationalist Society and other fascist and Neo-Nazi groups marched through Edinburgh last Saturday.
They were opposed by a much larger group organized by United Against Fascism, while dozens of police officers mobilised to prevent direct confrontation between the two groups as they marched from Market Street to Holyrood before stopping outside the Scottish Parliament.
The protest was ostensibly organised to demand mandatory prison sentences for paedophiles after dental student Christopher Daniel was granted an absolute discharge after abusing a six-year-old girl over two years.
“They’re gonna describe us as using this cause to further a right wing agenda,” said SDL co-ordinator Graham Walker, “It’s not about creed, colour, or religion”.
When asked how he felt about the presence of self-admitted Nazis at the rally, he replied: “They’re here to support us… we’re all here to protect our children.”
Shortly after, the protesters began chanting “say it loud, say it clear, refugees aren’t welcome here.”
Many cited the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal as an example of what they were marching against, as well as gains in LGBT rights, specifically pointing toward the increased support available to transgender children.
“That’s child abuse… The left are normalizing it,” said one protester.
With the rally coming only a week after the Christchurch shooting, the anti-Muslim terrorist attack loomed large over the proceedings. Unite Against Fascism held a two minutes silence, and chanted “Christchurch: Never Again.”
“I was raging… I knew we’d be judged for it,” commented a protester with the SDL rally who described himself as an ‘unaffiliated white nationalist’. “But then I saw the video and couldn’t stop laughing.”
The rally was initially disrupted by the anti-fascist casual firm Football Lads & Lasses Against Fascism. They posed as SDL members to slip past police and occupy the far-right group’s space – a tactic “to get rid of the ‘weekend racists” by making protests unpleasant as possible, so that only the most committed will continue to show up.
“When the SDL saw us they didn’t know what to think,” said one. “We’ve got years and years of doing this stuff.”
Following the football casual’s direct action, 37 far-right and fascist protesters assembled, with a few more filtering in as the march continued. The presence of the Scottish Nationalist Society was of particular note, as the group has strong links to the now-proscribed National Action – the group responsible for the death of Jo Cox. One SNS member said they were there to “take our country back… I’ll leave [who from] for you to decide.”
Another fascist jumped in: “Globalism,” he said, and coughed.
“The jew,” the first admitted.
They felt that the police treated the far-right marchers fairly. The police, however, invoked the ire of the anti-fascists after they ignored the repeated use of the Nazi salute, as well as the presence of SNS. Scottish Green co-convenor Maggie Chapman similarly criticized them for “facilitating” an SDL protest in Glasgow last year.
Edinburgh locals condemned the marchers, calling them “fascist scum,” and “basement gremlins”.
“We have to really organise against them,” one said.
“Edinburgh is getting very racist,” said another.
One woman, who’d lived in Edinburgh for ten years, was part of a group who was particularly defiant, calling out at the facists from across the barricades.
“I’m from Christchurch,” she said.