Antifascist Report: Humiliating Nazis for Fun and Against Profit
We Smashed the Fash
Nice one, varied and combined forces of antifa! As A Thousand Flowers has already written, we just had our biggest victory on the streets of Scotland — and the fash their biggest defeat — in at least seven years. Celebrate each other, share war stories, remember the particularly well-aimed egg and that brilliant chant you invented on the spot, giggle at how you ran rings round the cops, think about what you can do even better next time. And look after your bruises and your arrested comrades. We’ve still fash to smash and a world to win.
Various fascist groupuscules started sharing images on social media for a “white pride” march on March 25th in Edinburgh. Design for early images suggested National Action were involved, and later shares came from the National Front, meaning that this was likely to feature the most militant and most nazi of all our miserable local fash. They originally declared they would muster at Waverley at 1pm and march to the Grassmarket; this was later revised to “Edinburgh City Centre” without a timestamp. Unlike the SDL, they did not apply for permission for a march, meaning that fash, cops, liberals and antifa were all playing poker on the day, working out who was going to be where and how to win their goals.
By the high-risk, deeply militant and difficult activity of, er, just cycling around the city centre and using their eyes, autonomous antifascists worked out what was going on and shared intelligence: the cops were planning to pen the fash in at Hunters Square, halfway up the Royal Mile, and had set up barriers for a potential antifa pen on Market St, set back from Waverley Station, where both Edinburgh UAF and Scotland Against Trump had called their counter-demos.
This meant that while cops were busy marshalling protesters into pens at Market St and UAF were setting up their sound system, autonomous antifa were claiming strategic positions all round Hunters Square. One group lined the barriers around the square for their own static demo, which really annoyed the cops and brought out a swarm of bluejackets (so-called “police liason”) all trying their best to peddle the “we just want to facilitate your message” line and shift antifa on. Antifa held this territory for a good hour (by dint of the hardcore militant tactic of, um, just ignoring the bluejackets), forcing the cops to shrink the size of their planned fash pen and double up lines around it, meaning that when the fash eventually arrived they had literally no public line of sight, penned in by cops on three sides and the Tron on the fourth. No-one other than antifa was forced to see a single sieg heil. Lol. Meanwhile, antifa had come prepared with propaganda leaflets ready to explain to passers-by that “white pride” equals “nazi”, that cleaning streets of fash is vital, and that we’re stronger in solidarity.
While all this was going on, roaming antifa were doing what they could to disrupt the fash before they got on site. Edinburgh Antifa reports:
Before reaching their designated location, a group of Antifa members attacked the fascists on the platforms of Waverly station, turning 30 nazis into 20. […] Within 15 minutes of the official demo and counter demo starting, a small contingent of Antifa, from various different groups, escaped the police kettle and circled round through side streets, managing to prevent any other fascists joining the main body of their demonstration. The police were in constant pursuit, continuously trying to cut off and kettle Antifa but their efforts proved fruitless.
Anyway, eventually the cops decided they’d had enough, and formed a shouting, shoving cordon to push everyone back towards the UAF kettle. At this point the disparate antifa groups didn’t display a co-ordinated response, meaning that more territory was lost than necessary. A muddle of pushing back, linking arms and sitting down did slow the cops and hold space, but a co-ordinated and trained response could have broken the lines or, later, the barriers. Oh well. One for next time. We still thrashed em.
Because when the fash eventually turned up in their shrunken pen, antifa was close enough to prevent not only their visuals but their sound from being heard: not one nazi chant got beyond their pen. About halfway through the static demo a chunk of territory was reclaimed closer to the fash by the extremely high-tech and complicated tactics of, well, just moving the crash barriers and surging through. That meant that smoke-bombs, eggs, pom-poms and various other humiliating missiles did splat quite a few fash. Good black bloc co-ordination meant that anonymous throwers quickly melted back into the crowd and became unidentifiable, despite the presence of at least three FIT (“Forward Intelligence Team”) cameras from the cops and mobiles stuck on the top of selfie-sticks from the fash.
But when the fash were eventually marshalled back to Waverley, that’s when all the strategic manouvering really paid off. The territory held and the positioning of multiple antifa groups outside the kettle and around the area severely constrained cop/fash movements and led to a brilliant, hilarious, victorious stand-off at the Scotsman Steps. We were only there for the end of it, so we’ll let A Thousand Flowers tell that story:
Funnelling the fash into the Scotsman Steps, which span four storeys between Market St and North Bridge, the police found themselves with nowhere to take them. Another group of anti-fascists had assembled at the foot of the steps, pelting the Nazis with eggs as they were marched down the Lord of the Rings-eqsue tower. From there, the police began threatening anyone with arrest if they followed the fash kettle along Market Street. Eventually, they were dispersed in small groups into Waverley Station and taken out of the city.
That’s right, we kettled the police and the fash inside an actual tower, plugging entrance and exit with antifa, and holding the space for long enough to fully egg the fash and take a few great trophies. But ignoring and outmanouvering the police did come at a cost: a number of antifa were arrested, we believe on public order charges. Most gallingly, one of these arrests took place in the post-battle kettle, lulling us into a false sense of boredom before using the kettle to push in and snatch one individual. There wasn’t enough preparation to defend or dearrest the comrade, and we let our guard down too soon.
There is, though, legal support available. Bust cards were widely distributed, and antifa groups are prepared to offer legal tips, court date solidarity and fundraising to cover legal costs if needed. Email email@example.com in the first instance if you got nicked or know someone who was, and we’ve got your backs.
Alongside ATF’s regular reporting, we’re pleased to see the gonzo videos of Red Front Republic still going strong. Edinburgh Antifa has way more details of physical confrontations we missed, including a showdown inside Waverley and some details on the cat-and-mouse that surrounded the fash. Is anyone else doing good radical media on these actions? We’d like to see more. The more we can debate tactics and messaging the better.
Really pissing off the fash and getting them to be as nazi as possible paid off in the mainstream press. The Scottish Sun led with calling the march “sick”, STV and EEN went for putting “white pride” in inverted commas (nice one, let’s go for “so-called ‘white pride’” next time, eg?). We’re not sure what the fuck’s up with this student journalist congratulating the police and calling neo-nazxis “protesters” but we’re grateful for his hilarious video of cops doing the conga. We’d like all reporters to critically question how they photograph nazis. When we go to all the effort of preventing them from reaching the public, it’d be nice if you didn’t uncritically broadcast their banners and messaging. There’s a line between showing them up as miserable shit-eating nazis and allowing them to look cool. But journos gonna journo, so we’re gonna antifa.
Some things to note about the coverage: (1) The police stated “ten arrests” but didn’t say of whom, leading journos to assume they were all fash. This has positives and negatives: we don’t get bad press for it, but we also miss the opportunity to make the case for militant opposition; (2) UAF have a basic machine for getting quotes in stories, and although mainstream press is a shitshow it’s still worth getting more radical messages in there if we can; (3) Preparing a whole bunch of placards and distributing them on the front line totally pays off, cos it means the Sun gets radical messages in its pictures rather than Swoppie identiplacards. Tip: everyone loves a bit of Scots. The Daily Record went with “Nazis are pure shite by the way” as its original online headline.
As ATF noted, a few small groups of well-coordinated black bloc antifa were able to do a lot of damage to the fash. Nice one. (We still think the skull masks are daft but.) It’s a shift in antifa tactics and we need to keep it up and support it, especially by ensuring arrestees are looked after. Placard-making, intelligence-gathering and pre-action networking made all the difference for antifa tactics, laying good strategic ground for the black bloc to operate. And making sure large numbers turn out and ideally giving them a place to be that isn’t just UAF-run does help with media-messaging, space-holding and giving arrest targets a crowd to hide in. Long live the diversity of tactics!
While we celebrate black bloc and militant tactics and want to see more of it, there are a lot of other important and less high-risk roles that also need fulfilling. All of these were done to some extent but can be strengthened and improved.
- Legal support through emergency contacts, radical legal observers and court support in Scotland is still under-organised at present and needs rebuilding.
- Propaganda distribution to members of the public before an action kicks off helps to build consensus and prevent the fash from recruiting; getting radical statements to the media and, better, doing our own media helps shape the story and helps us to recruit.
- Intelligence-gathering is essential, both for determining fash movements where undeclared and identifying potential strategic routes for antifa. But for this to work, it also needs networks of trust and good information and organisational security, which take time and work to build. (This is especially vital now, as having been bested the cops will be extra keen to infiltrate networks and neutralise information-sharing.)
- Further training is still needed, for black bloc tactics, classic civil disobedience tactics to hold lines against police (or, better, break them.), outmanouvering kettles, and protecting at-risk individuals from arrest.
Finally, it’s worth saying that our best action in ages still didn’t stop them holding a static demo. They still claim the day as a victory, and though we know they’re kidding themselves, it’d be awfie nice to cement our victory by keeping them off the streets in the first place. It’s been a long time since we managed that, and the cops are our biggest obstacle in doing so. As we build and strengthen our tactics, let’s work towards that big prize.