Four people were arrested as members of the National Front involved in a ‘nationalists against groomers’ demonstration clashed with counter-protesters.
The National Front announced its plans to protest against ‘Asian Grooming’ in the Oxford area earlier this month. In the Facebook event organisers wrote that, “more and more in the news we are hearing about Muslim Grooming gangs and the cover up by the police and Social Services for the past decade and even further back still. We Nationalists say enough is enough…”
Cherwell understands that this demonstration took place in Oxford due to the conviction of six Oxford men last year for offences including child rape and trafficking. Of the seven men tried, two were of East African origin and five of Pakistani descent.
Oxford Unite Against Fascism organised a counter-protest on the same day in Bonn Square. The Facebook event, ‘National Front not welcome in Oxford’, had gained 158 attendees by the morning of the protests. The organisers argued that the National Front’s protest “is clearly an attempt to cynically exploit the suffering of victims of abuse and create division in our community by stirring up race hatred against Muslims.”
Speaking to Cherwell before the protests, Pat Carmody, one of the counter-demonstration organisers, said “a motley crew of fascists are coming to Oxford to whip up Islamophobia and division in our multicultural city. They are cynically using the horrific sexual abuse of children by a group of men in Oxford to increase the scapegoating of Muslims. If the recent high-profile cases have taught us anything – it is that the problem of sexual abuse of children is not confined to a particular community.
“The National Front will be opposed by hundreds of people in Oxford – the counter-demonstration called by Oxford Unite Against Fascism will be joined by Labour and Green councillors, trade unionists, community and faith groups, students and people who despise racism. We will be standing united to say that we will not let the fascists divide us with their racist poison and They Shall Not Pass!”
The organisers of the counter-protest also encouraged supporters to add their names to an open letter condemning the National Front’s actions. It claimed that the “protest in Oxford on 26th July is a threat to everyone who believes in a peaceful, tolerant and democratic society.”
Alice King, a German and Spanish student, commented, “I’d be very interested to know what the same National Front ‘protesters’ have done in response to the many recent revelation of child sex abuse in the entertainment industry and the government. Call me sceptical, but their ‘concern’ won’t seem legitimate to me until they’ve protested outside the BBC headquarters and parliament as well.”
The National Front is a far-right nationalist party that sees itself as ‘fighting for race and nation.’ Though it denies accusations of fascism, membership of the party is prohibited for police officers on the grounds that such activity ‘is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of their duties or […] give rise to the impression […] that it may so interfere.’
In response to the planned protests Thames Valley Police sent fifty police officers to the scene to help redirect protesters and buses. Supt. Christian Bunt, local police commander for Oxford police area, said, “there were a handful of arrests made over the course of the day, however, the vast majority of those taking part were well behaved.”
Four people were arrested in total, three on suspicion of resisting a constable in the execution of duty and one on suspicion of the theft of a flag.
The National Front were not available for comment.