15 August 2009

'Barack Obama' is put in stocks as festivities kick off at the BNP summer party

The BNP have often denied being a racist party. But as a man dressed as U.S. president Barack Obama was put in stocks, the true colours of the party were clear for all to see.

The shocking scene was part of the BNP's annual Red, White and Blue festival which is taking place in Codnor, Derbyshire this weekend.

The rally, in its 10th year, has sparked widespread controversy and today protesters descended on the site to show their opposition. A spokeswoman for Derbyshire Police said a small number of arrests had been made near the village of Codnor as hundreds of demonstrators voiced their opposition to the festival.

'Those arrests were of protesters who had been acting unlawfully,' the spokeswoman said, adding that some of the demonstrators had gathered outside approved protest zones.

The main body of demonstrators, which is being monitored by police CCTV cameras, gathered in Codnor's Market Place and is expected to march to Codnor Denby Lane later. Campaign group Unite Against Fascism has joined forces with Midlands TUC and local protest group Amber Valley Campaign Against Racism and Fascism to bring hundreds of anti-fascist protesters to the area.

They plan to 'kettle' the rally today and have organised the protest march to the site of the festival and back again.

Kettling, also known as containment or corralling, is sometimes used by police and involves a large cordon to contain a crowd in a limited area. The move comes after an open letter was published yesterday on Unite Against Fascism's website, condemning the event. The letter, whose signatories include former London mayor Ken Livingstone, children's author Michael Rosen and trade union leaders, said the event's purpose was to 'build up a hardened neo-Nazi core at the centre of the organisation'.

It said: 'We condemn the BNP and its festival of race hate, and we urge people to reject this party's poisonous and anti-democratic agenda.'

This year is not the first time the festival has attracted opposition. Last year about 30 anti-BNP protesters were arrested after clashes with police. Derbyshire Police have planned a 'significant policing operation' throughout the three-day event, including restrictions on the planned protests.

Yesterday a American white supremacist was stopped from entering the country to attend the Red, White and Blue Festival.

Preston Wiginton, a close associate of BNP leader Nick Griffin, was turned away at Heathrow because officials believed his presence would stir up racial tension. There were suggestions he would be speaking at the event, but the BNP denied these rumours.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said Mr Wiginton, 44, was sent back to New York from Heathrow airport on Thursday.

The BNP's deputy leader Simon Darby said of Mr Wiginton: 'He came to last year's Red, White and Blue and was coming to this year's but they wouldn't let him in for some reason. He wasn't coming to speak.'

Mr Wiginton, a freshman student at Texas A & M university, wrote an essay in 2006 which described non-white immigration as 'an abnormal growth that is threatening the life of American culture and the life of American people'.

He said: 'If action is taken, and time is of the essence, this cancer can be eradicated.' If not, he added, 'the death of the American way of life, identity and sovereignty is certain.'

He is rumoured to spend half of the year living in a flat in Moscow that he sublets from a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke. In October 2007 he organised and paid for Nick Griffin to speak at three American universities to coincide with Islam Awareness Week. As well as financing the trip he also appealed to members of Nazi internet forums to donate money to the BNP.

Later that year he organised a march in the Russian capital at which leading Nazis addressed a crowd of fascists shouting 'death to Jews' and 'glory to Russia.' He also spearheaded the support for Griffin during his trial for inciting racial hatred in 2006, and set up an online petition urging the British Government to drop the prosecution.

He regularly posts anti-Semitic messages on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront. One reads: 'And the Jew - how many nations and economies have they destroyed - yes they were doing this in many centuries ago as well. The Jew has infested every nation - there is no where else to go.'

Nick Lowles, editor of anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, said the decision to ban him was 'great news'. He added: 'He is one of the world's most extreme racists - this shows what the BNP are really like.'

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