Neo-Nazis bring Dover to a standstill and clash with police after marching through the town chanting ‘no more refugees’ a day after #refugeeswelcome was projected onto white cliffs
- The march by the East Kent Alliance and a counter protest from Kent Anti Racism Network has taken place in Dover
- Supporters of far-right groups, including the English Defence League and National Front, clashed with riot police
- Officers make arrests after coach loads of protesters headed to the Kent town for anti-immigration, anti-ISIS protest
- Only yesterday the words #refugeeswelcome were projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover ahead of neo-Nazi march
Dozens of far-right Neo-Nazis have clashed with police in an angry protest over immigration and ISIS which has brought Dover to a standstill.
The march by the East Kent Alliance and a counter protest from Kent Anti Racism Network has seen supporters of the far-right groups English Defence League and the National Front join forces.
Police arrested 12 people in Marine Parade for offences, including for failing to remove a mask. Hundreds of officers in riot gear were deployed as roads were closed.
Coach loads of protesters headed to the Kent town but were delayed because they were stopped and searched by police. Some demonstrators, however, were holding posters saying ‘no to racism’ and welcoming refugees.
Only yesterday the words #refugeeswelcome were projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover ahead of the neo-Nazi march.
A similar demo caused a day of chaos in January and police were ready for a similar number of marchers and protesters.
More than 30 people were arrested during and after the protest in January when far-right protesters clashed with anti-fascists, but Kent Police says lessons have been learnt from the disorder.
So far from those arrested 16 people have been charged with a variety of offences and 21 are on bail with conditions not to enter Dover.
Officers also imposed conditions on organisers and protesters in terms of the route and timing of the march and the assembly point for opposing protesters.
They used powers to stop and search people or vehicles for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments and those with face coverings were asked to remove them.
Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, said the disruption to local people caused by the demonstrators was ‘too high a price to pay’.
He said: ‘Here today in Dover, ferries are waiting at the port being disrupted. The port has been disrupted. The haulage industry has been disrupted.
‘Our nation’s economy has been disrupted, as well as the town of Dover and our local economy.’
He added: ‘It’s too high a price to pay and it’s not acceptable that people can come here, demonstrate, and cause this level of disruption to people going about their daily lives.
‘That’s why it’s time that, as constituency MP for Dover, I think we need to look again at the law governing these sorts of situations and make it proportional to the rights of people going about their daily business.’
But Mr Elphicke praised police handling of the event. ‘The police’s main job today was to keep both sides separate, both sides apart, and they have been effective in that,’ he said.
‘Last time when we had disruption I was highly critical of the police.
‘This time I have to say they have planned it well. They have come ready and prepared with horses, with dogs and with the full equipment load that they need to ensure they keep the peace.’
Many residents in the town have called on the police to ban future protests after taxpayers had to pick up the bill for the destruction in January.
However, an independent report has found Kent Police’s actions in Dover were ‘proportionate’, ‘justifiable’ and ‘appropriate’.
The review, carried out by NPoCC Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sheed, found that ‘to ban the march or impose conditions would have been inappropriate’ and that while ‘there were some areas that could be improved on’ the operation was ‘effective and well led.’
Another protest is also planned for April 23 and may also require the temporary closure of the A20.
Drivers are advised to plan their journeys and allow additional time if required.
Neil Jerome, temporary assistant chief constable for Kent Police, said the disruption was ‘unavoidable’.
He said: ‘As I made clear in the run-up to the events today, the right to protest inevitably causes disruption to the community. That is largely unavoidable – we do all we can to minimise that disruption.
‘I fully appreciate the frustration caused when a road is closed. This decision is not made lightly and only after consulting with Highways England and Kent County Council.
‘It was necessary to allow us to facilitate the protest and ensure the safety of both motorists and protesters.’
Anti-fascist protester Siobhan Murphy, 40, from Deal, Kent, described the group’s message as ‘peaceful’.
She said: ‘We gathered in the market square and that was peaceful.
‘There was a convoy of three vehicles going to Calais with aid and so we decorated the vehicles with messages and accompanied the vans to the port.’
She added: ‘It’s just to say no to hate. Make a stand, in a sense.’