Liverpool BNP harrass Asian shop-keepers in Huyon
On Saturday, the Liverpool branch of the British National Party were out in Huyton. However, they were not doing a stall, a paper sale, or election leafletting. Instead, they spent hours outside an Asian business in a barely disguised case of racial harrasment and intimidation. See the video here.
According to their blog, the group’s picket was inspired by the allegation that “a 73 year old disabled lady from Huyton was severely verbally and racially abused recently.” They claim that, after complaining that she was given change of £10 despite paying with a £20 note, she faced “the most racially foul [sic] language” and “was told in no uncertain terms to leave the shop.” Despite which, they admit she was then “told to return and the video footage would be viewed.”
We don’t get to hear how the alleged incident ended, but we don’t need to. The point, in essence, is that there was a dispute over change and it was resolved by viewing the shop’s CCTV. Whether there was racial abuse remains to be seen. And with my own experience of the BNP’s propensity for tall tales, I’m inclined to doubt it.
Nonetheless, this was enough of a pretext for the party to picket the shop. Peter and Andrew Tierney, Karen Otty, Gary Lucas, and Mike Whitby were all present, handing out papers and holding placards that read “check your change.”
Not surprisingly, the presence of fascists outside their shop put the owners on edge. The BNP describe one of them as “stood menacingly in the entrance of his shop we[i]lding a metal bar.” However, unlike Peter Tierney when he had a camera tripod, the weapon was not used. But, either way, having something to hand to defend yourself when faced with racists and fascists – one of whom has a conviction for assault – probably isn’t a bad idea.
The owners also called the police, and soon there were nine police officers outside the shop to prevent any trouble. Apparently, despite the track record of the party in Liverpool, this is proof that “All are equal but some are more equal than others.”
Further “proof” of this imagined double-standard comes from the fact that one woman who stood up to the fascists wore a t-shirt that said “Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic.” Yet “a blatant display of the George Cross in England may be perceived as ‘inappropriate’ to the PC brigade.” Which, aside from being a rather spurious falsehood, has nothing whatsoever to do with anything.
Ultimately, the event appears to have ended peacefully. After causing considerable commotion, and agitating the shopkeepers to no end, the BNP left with a feeling that they have done their bit for the motherland. But this may not always be the case.
The BNP, in an attempt to shore up their own position against splits and the rise of the EDL, are engaging in more and more direct action. This shop picket does not live up to physically standing in the way of Islamic militants, as Nick Griffin promised, but it is early days yet. Elsewhere, we have seen the EDL attack Asian shop fronts and intimidate Asian taxi drivers, amongst other acts. Attacking the businesses of a hated ethnic minority is not a new tactic for the far-right, and can be traced back through the National Front and British Union of Fascists to that most infamous of incidents – Kristallnacht.
This is not to say that we are about to see anything quite so dramatic. The fascists have lost a large amount of their power simply because there is an active working class movement against austerity, pulling people away from reaction. But with the party now sanctioning direct action, and trying to stave off the party’s implosion by matching the perceived momentum of the EDL, a slide into outright violence looks increasingly likely.
Antifascists will need to remain vigilant. What we are talking about isn’t the set-piece violence of big demonstrations, but a strike at the heart of working class communities. When we most desperately need unity as a class, those who seek to divide us along ethnic lines need to be resisted.