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Israeli Flag Burned At Neo-Nazi "White Man March"

A group called National Action burned an Israeli flag and generally made a nuisance of itself on Newcastle's Quayside.

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NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE – Saturday was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, as declared by the United Nations.

A group of far-right supporters took the opportunity to show they didn't want to celebrate, or campaign for, the elimination of racial discrimination by marching through Newcastle city centre.

The "White Man March" was organised by National Action, a group described by Dr Paul Jackson, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Northampton, as "a small neo-Nazi groupuscule".

Chris Stokel-Walker / BuzzFeed News

National Action, according to its website, "believes this country needs a kick in the head – a good slap so we can get it together. Fresh perspective through a fiery youth culture is the only thing that will reanimate society."

But while the anti-Muslim group Pegida had been able to attract around 375 people to a protest in the city in February, the White Man March was more sparsely attended.

Chris Stokel-Walker / BuzzFeed News

Northumbria police estimated that 100 far-right protesters gathered near the Pitcher & Piano bar on Newcastle's Quayside.

In fact, there were almost as many police as there were protesters.

More police than protestors on White Man March in #Newcastle

At least 16 police vans were stationed on the Quayside, with many officers policing a buffer zone between the neo-Nazis and anti-fascist counter-protesters. Yet more lined the surrounding streets to make sure the two sides would not meet.

In the hours before the march, Newcastle went about its business as normal.

Chris Stokel-Walker / BuzzFeed News

A rally celebrating National Sign Language week politely assembled by Grey's Monument in the middle of the city. Later, people gathered to celebrate UN anti-racism day, led by the Newcastle Unites group, which opposed Pegida's march in February.

Down by the Quayside a personal trainer cajoled his class through leg lifts. Police patrolled the city, partly because of the competing demonstrations but also because Arsenal were in town to play Newcastle United.

In contrast to Pegida's February protest, which was not explicitly linked to the far right, the White Man March was overtly racist in tone.

Chris Stokel-Walker/BuzzFeed News

When the flag of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was unfurled at the Pegida protest, many of the demonstrators rushed to snatch it away. "That is not what we're about," insisted Marion Rogers, a Pegida organiser, immediately after the incident. "We are not Nazis, and that's why we stopped it."

The White Man March, though, celebrated all things neo-Nazi. A small contingent of extremists from Poland had made the journey to Newcastle to be there, as had a famous Italian fascist. Two of nine arrests made at the march were for the burning of an Israeli flag during the protest, Northumbria police told BuzzFeed News. A further arrest was made for hate speech. Two others were arrested for public order offences, while four others were arrested for unknown reasons.

A gay pride flag and one depicting Che Guevara were also burned, and protesters gave the Nazi salute.

"There were a number whose behaviour was unacceptable," said assistant chief constable Winton Keenen.

"We simply will not tolerate people engaging in behaviour that could negatively impact on our communities and will take positive action against those who do.

"We have an excellent relationship with our vast and diverse communities with great community cohesion, not just in Newcastle but across the force area."

A White Man March protester from the Midlands who did not wish to be named said he was present “because the whole system is corrupt”.

Asked if the White Man March was a neo-Nazi movement, he replied: "It depends what you mean by 'neo-Nazi movement'.

"Nazis are the most lied-about people in history. These people care about their race and their country. They don't want to see kids raped. They don't want drug culture, drink culture, binging, and the age of self, where people are rendered an economic statistic and no more. They've got no rights to self-determination. A lot of people like to narrow us down to imbecile racists rather than intelligent people."

He then brought up the concept of miscegenation.

Asked if he was opposed to races mixing, he said: "I never used to be, but I understand its purpose now. It's being used to demographically replace us with non-white people. I'm now against it. It doesn't mean I judge non-white people, or hold something against someone for the colour of their skin. It's about a satanic policy to eradicate your race and mine."

Around 70 anti-fascist protesters turned up, and there were duelling chants and heckles over the setpiece speeches.

But the police kept the two sides apart, and the anti-fascist group left after an hour, seemingly underwhelmed by the number of people they were there to picket.

"The White Man March is neo-Nazis building at a time of economic despair," North East Anti Fascists spokesperson Lawrie Coombs told BuzzFeed News.

Chris Stokel-Walker/BuzzFeed News

"We think mainstream opinion is that white supremacy is from another age – it's ridiculous," he added. "It's people who get overexcited on the internet. But they're dangerous. We don't want their poison to seep into the mainstream."

BuzzFeed News was stopped by a drinker at the Pitcher & Piano who gave her name as Amy.

She wanted to know what had happened, and why there were so many police on the Quayside on a quiet Saturday afternoon. When asked which side of the demonstration she supported, she was clear.

"I'm on the same side as 99.9% of right-minded people," Amy said. "Whichever side the neo-Nazis aren't on."

Chris is a freelance writer for BuzzFeed, The Economist, The Sunday Times and the BBC, based in the UK.

Contact Chris Stokel-Walker at .

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