Police arrested 13 people in Dover on Saturday as far-right and anti-fascist groups both held protests.
One man was arrested on suspicion of possession of offensive weapons and another on suspicion of theft of a police baseball cap. Three men were arrested in connection with a protest on 30 January , when violent clashes erupted between the two groups.
The march, which began shortly after 1pm, was disrupted as anti-fascist protesters refused to assemble in a designated area near Marine Parade, leading to eight arrests.
Police formed a human barrier to cordon off the group on the seafront and as far-right demonstrators marched past, tense words were exchanged over officers. An EU flag was burnt by far-right protesters as they congregated by the port, where they spoke in favour of Brexit and against immigration. Anti-fascist protesters sang: “Refugees are welcome here” as they stood surrounded by police, countering earlier chants of “No more refugees”.
Some roads were closed to allow protesters to make their way towards Dover’s eastern docks, causing long traffic tailbacks.
Charlie Elphicke, the 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.”
Elphicke praised police handling of Saturday’s march. He said: “The police’s main job today was to keep both sides separate, both sides apart, and they have been effective in that.”
Neil Jerome, a 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.”
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.”
Source : The Guardian