Anti-fascist demonstrators blocked Kingsland Road to protest the ‘alt-right’ Dalston gallery, LD50.
The protest on Saturday, arranged by Hackney Stand Up to Racism and Fascism, was organised after it came to light that a series of far right speakers were invited to give talks at the gallery.
Around three hundred protesters gathered on Tottenham Road, outside LD50, before marching down Kingsland Road, blocking the traffic. The march later returned to the gallery for closing speeches.
Despite rumours of an organised counter-protest, there was only one counter-protester who argued that fascism should be debated. The counter-protester, who gave his name as DC Miller, said: ”we have to be able to have discussion with people who hold these ideas.”
Miller was criticised heavily by the anti-fascist protesters, who accused him of supporting the gallery and its message. Miller was eventually told to stop by the police, who feared violence, telling him “You’ve made your point”.
London Student spoke to a masked protester from the Revolutionary Communist Group. He said “We do not believe in free speech for fascists. We don’t believe that fascism is a political ideology that should be respected, it is something that should be smashed.”
When asked about why his group were hiding their faces, he replied “Many right wing organisations such as Redwatch or Breitbart take pictures at events such as these. Then your picture ends up on fascist internet forums”.
Since the protest, the content of the gallery’s website has been removed and instead two videos from the protest uploaded. One shot and edited by Ruptley, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned news group RT, and the other a video describing Miller as a hero, published on a Youtube channel associated with a minor far-right news organisation The New Brit.
“Are we going to let it go back to the old days?” – protesters discuss their experiences of fascism
The controversial speakers were invited as part of a ‘neoreactionary and reactionary’ conference. According to the blog of one speaker, invites were sent out “behind a veil of secrecy to prevent the usual suspects (Leftists and other neurotics) from attacking.”
The far-right figures invited to speak last year included Peter Brimelow, a white supremacist and anti immigration activist, and Brett Stevens. Stevens came to international attention when he was quoted in the ‘manifesto’ of far-right terrorist, Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011. Stevens said of Brevik, “I am honored to be so mentioned by someone who is clearly far braver than I… he chose to act where many of us write, think and dream.”.
The artistic content of the gallery consists of Hitler quotes coupled with anime motifs and other conflations of alt-right imagery such as Pepe the Frog.
The alt-right is loosely defined political group that distances itself from traditional conservatism. It emerged from internet forums such as 4chan and reddit and closely aligns itself with Donald Trump.
Regarding the gallery, Philip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney, said:
“Hackney is proud to be a diverse and tolerant borough. While we support artistic freedom of expression and free speech, there are clear limits; and racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and xenophobia have no place in Hackney.
“We condemn businesses such as LD50 which promote and give a platform to racism, xenophobia and hate speech. We should not allow hate to become normalised or acceptable.”