Disquiet at far-right activity

March 25, 2004 — Comment

Written by Tina Smith

As the June elections approach, the BNP and the NF are marking the deaths of white murder victims. But, the families of the victims do not see the murders in terms of race.

Last week the far-right BNP descended on Glasgow to launch ‘Project Handshake’ – its avowed bid ‘to sink once and for all the media created myth that BNP members and supporters are racist and race haters’. The visit coincided with the recent murder of 15-year-old Kriss Donald, a young White boy, taken from a street by Asians in the mixed area of Pollockshields, Glasgow and later found beaten to death. In a public appeal against racism, Kriss’ mother said ‘five men, full of hate, and it doesn’t matter … what colour these men are, murdered my eldest son… Kriss is gone because of gangs…I would urge the public not to target the Asian community because of his death.’

The visit by the BNP was condemned by local leaders. Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing commented, ‘When the community needs to be united in helping the police murder investigation, when witnesses have come forward from all communities to help the enquiry and root out the killers of Kriss Donald, the last thing we need is the BNP coming to Glasgow to exploit a tragedy. They are trying to create a divided society in the guise of “project handshake”.’

Other campaigns around White murders

This is not the first time that the far-right has taken up cases where in a gang fight or inter-racial attack a White person has died. Nor is it the first time that right-wing groups have acted without the support of the families of the deceased.

For example, the BNP has also campaigned in Oldham – an area hit by riots in May 2001 over the murder of 19-year-old Gavin Hopley in the Glodwick area of Oldham. Gavin died after being kicked in the head by an Asian man in February 2002. Police arrested a number of men and one was charged with murder, five for violent disorder and one for theft.

The Hopley family have said, ‘We don’t want the National Front or the BNP to turn Gavin into a martyr. His name is already on the NF website and we do not like that.’

The second anniversary of the murder of Gavin Hopley prompted two demonstrations by the BNP in London on 16 February. The first was held at the offices of the Commission for Racial Equality and the second was held hours later outside the offices of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). The demonstrators accused the government and the media of a ‘self-imposed silence’ on ‘White racial attack victims’. The BNP is also demanding an official inquiry into Gavin’s murder.

At the NUJ, over 200 protestors gathered outside its offices in Gray’s Inn Road to protest at the BNP’s labelling of the media coverage of Gavin’s murder as racist. A much smaller group of BNP activists were escorted to their spot opposite the NUJ office and watched over by police.

National Front on the march

Another far-right organisation, the National Front (NF), has also campaigned around murders of white people in recent months. On 17 January 2004, it held a ‘stop racist attacks’ demonstration in Woolwich, south-east London. The demonstration was held ‘in memory’ of Terry Gregory who died after being stabbed following an argument with a Black man at a bus stop on 28 December 2003. Soon after the murder, George Edwin, 65, went voluntarily to a police station and was charged with murder and GBH in connection with the attack. The NF demonstration was not endorsed by Terry Gregory’s family. His mother was reported in a local newspaper saying: ‘I told the police I didn’t want anything to do with the demonstration. I was not happy about it.’ On the day, Terry Blackham, the NF National Activities Organiser, is reported to have called for the repatriation of non-Whites.

More recently, at the beginning of March, the NF planned a march in Peterborough in connection with the murder of Ross Parker but back-tracked after Ross’ family and the local police condemned the move. Instead, four members of the National Front laid flowers at the spot where Ross was murdered in Peterborough in September 2001. 17-year-old Ross died after being stabbed by three Asians while out walking with his girlfriend. Three men were sentenced to life in December 2002, another man was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter. Police believe the attack was racially motivated but the accused men never gave any indication as to their motives. The NF also planned a demonstration in Peterborough in November 2001, soon after Ross’ murder, but it was banned by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett.

After the murder of Kriss Donald in Glasgow, Ross’ father Tony, appealed to the community in Glasgow: ‘Don’t do anything silly… the BNP and NF will try to use this for political gain. They tried to do the same with Ross, which is totally wrong.’

Related links

Peterborough Evening Telegraph – Murdered teen’s dad slams NF stunt

National Union of Journalists – How the BNP exploits a killing

Newsshopper – Parents of murdered man upset by demo

Searchlight – Searchlight anti-fascist magazine

Positive Action in Housing

Picture: Trevor

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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