The SDL turning up in any town or city of their choosing always presents the danger of being a “success” for the fascists merely by them being able to get out a few dozen of their followers out and, in the process, shut down an entire town centre for an afternoon.
But a combination of factors was able to prevent that in Perth on Sunday. The build up to the day had made it clear the SDL have no local support in Perth (although the same is true everywhere), there was strong opposition from the local press and politicians – indeed, the local MP, Pete Wishart, who attended the counter protest – and there was a good turnout of around 500, more than has been managed recently in far larger cities. Importantly, anti-fascists also embraced a diversity of tactics on the day, ensuring that all did not go as planned for the SDL. Nor did things really go entirely as planned by the police either, despite the huge number of officers (easily over 100) present on the day, who – let’s remember – usually feel compelled to facilitate the SDL no matter the circumstances. On Sunday, the circumstances were that the SDL were protesting about a new mosque due to be built in Perth.
When the SDL first showed up by the railway station – where around 500 anti-fascists had assembled – their bus was forced into a panicked turn around and – hazard lights flashing away – sped off into the distance.
However, in the town centre things were set to follow a more rigid pattern, with the police and council having put barriers in place, forming designated protest areas for each “opposing side”. However, not everyone was willing to fall into that trap on the anti-fascist side, and small groups – and large numbers of curious locals – were milling about elsewhere. With some blocking the road, the police were unable to escort the SDL in for around an hour later than initially planned, leaving two lonely fash to spend the majority of their demo by themselves. The police took a firm line with some anti-fascists though, who were kettled in small groups. It is understood this led to one protestor having a epileptic fit and an ambulance having to be called.
When the SDL were eventually brought in, there were farcical scenes as the cops went out of their way to clear the road – and everyone else – to accommodate the 40 or so fascists. Still, this didn’t stop the SDL from being pelted with eggs as they came down the high street…
The policing on Sunday was totally over the top, going to extreme lengths to facilitate the SDL’s desire for a demo in the town centre. At least their appearance, and eventual escorting away, gave the day a defined end point, coinciding, as it did, with a torrential downpour.
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