Activists from international far-right youth organisation Generation Identity clashed with anti-fascist activists at Hyde Park Corner on Sunday.
The white nationalist group’s founder Martin Sellner, as well as his girlfriend Brittany Pettibone and a Canadian alt-right Youtuber Lauren Southern, were barred from entering the UK last week.
The demonstration on Sunday was originally planned to be Sellner’s speech but following the move by Home Office, they planned a “free speech” demonstration. Activists made white power salutes, carried banners reading “Protect Free Speech” and chanted the name of Pepe, an internet meme associated with the alt-right.
Recently activists from Generation Identity have begun plastering stickers around SOAS’s Bloomsbury campus. ‘Defend England,’ the stickers read, followed by a link to the organisation’s website. Anti-fascist graffiti later appeared on the walls of the campus, but was soon removed by university cleaning staff.
Students who contact the group are asked to fill in a form for ‘security purposes,’ which asks them to state their ideological influences and favourite YouTube personalities. The applicant must also link to their social media accounts, and sign a declaration stating that they are not a journalist. If the application is successful, the student is then given a video interview.
A protest against the group attracting dozens of students last week, who played music and chanted anti-fascist slogans. ‘Your well-branded, obviously well-funded attempt to give fascism a pretty face in the UK has not gone unnoticed,’ read an open letter to the group, signed by several student societies. ‘Yours is an agenda which will not be tolerated anywhere in modern society,’ the statement continued.
The letter, signed by SOAS’s Japan, East Africa, Antifascist and Marxist societies, accused the group of ‘targeting certain groups based only on the colour of their skin,’ and called on supporters to concentrate their anger elsewhere. ‘We understand that you are angry. We’re angry too. But your enemy is not your Muslim classmate…it is not your Jewish colleague.’
Additional reporting by Ben van der Merwe