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Dover protest: Immigration protesters march through town centre


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Additional reporting by Sam Lennon

Four people have been arrested after an anti-immigration march was held in Dover.

People assembled fully at 1pm at Union Street – away from the town's train station where police vans and cars were waiting.

Protesters on the streets of Dover

Officers with riot gear, many drafted in from outside the county, gathered at the station.

The protesters soon started to make their presence known. One member estimated there were at least 150 of them – although police gave the figure as 60.

Red smoke canisters were set off as the march moved onto the A20 Snargate Street where the group remained for some time.

Dozens have gathered for the march in opposition to the housing of attempted refugees
Dozens have gathered for the march in opposition to the housing of attempted refugees
Protesters today sat on the road at Snargate Street as officers approached to move them. Picture: Sam Lennon
Protesters today sat on the road at Snargate Street as officers approached to move them. Picture: Sam Lennon
Officers set up a rolling roadblock on the A20 Snargate Street
Officers set up a rolling roadblock on the A20 Snargate Street

Protesters blocked off the route for at least an hour, standing or sitting in the middle of the road.

They remained there with police setting up a rolling roadblock around the group.

A police spokesman said: "Kent Police officers attended the scene to ensure people were able to take part in a peaceful protest and to make sure the impact on the community and local businesses was kept to a minimum.

"Two people were arrested on suspicion of public order offences and two people were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway. All four remain in custody."

The town's MP launched a stinging attack on the protesters, tweeting: "We don't want them here."

Flags being flown at the protest
Flags being flown at the protest

Natalie Elphicke, who represents Dover and Deal, said: “It’s time to stop the small boats crossings but today’s protestors are not welcome in Dover.

"There’s no excuse for their disruption to trade and to our town.

"Time and again we see that the protesters’ day out causes direct damage to someone else’s livelihood, tourism, business and trade. That’s not right or fair.

“Kent Police have had a challenging year – from the French closing the border to leaving the EU to coronavirus lockdowns and PCSO Julia James’ tragic death.

"They deserved a proper bank holiday break this weekend – not been sworn at by loud-mouthed protestors from London or Essex or wherever.”

Officers were preparing at the train station ahead of the march
Officers were preparing at the train station ahead of the march

Reporter Sam Lennon, who was at the scene, said: "On the whole the protest has been largely peaceful with a few tense moments.

"A woman sitting down in protest was picked up off the ground by officers but wasn't arrested. A man who appeared to be a military veteran started shouting at the police and was gently but firmly pushed back – again it wasn't anything too serious."

That man - estimated to be in his 60s - was treated by paramedics after collapsing in the street possibly as a result of heat exhaustion. He eventually regained his strength and was able to walk with the help of fellow protesters.

St George flags were being flown but none from far right groups such as the National Front and English Defence League.

There was reportedly no sign of presence from these groups.

Police swamp the protest as it shuts off part of Snargate Street
Police swamp the protest as it shuts off part of Snargate Street
Police were drafted in from forces across the south east
Police were drafted in from forces across the south east

Likewise there were no pro-migrant counter demonstrators confronting them on the march.

Superintendent Andy Gadd said: "Today’s protest has taken place with minimal disruption to the local community.

"Four people have been arrested and our enquiries into those incidents continues.

"I’d like to thank the local community and those travelling through the area for their patience and understanding as we worked to balance the rights of those taking part in the protest with those living and working in Dover."

The 'Defend our borders' event was advertised in advance by a group calling itself the Pembrokeshire Patriots.

'Brexit Brian' explains why he attended the march

Its name stems from the use of a Welsh barracks – similar to Folkestone's Napier Barracks – to house people caught crossing the Channel.

The group refuses to be labelled as far right.

The march had begun at the seafront and then to Union Street, close to where asylum seekers on small boats are usually brought in by the Border Force.

It fragmented at York Street with the main core of demonstrators eventually returning to Union Street.

Our reporter was able to observe life carrying on normally in the town centre precinct, bustling and with shops, cafes and pubs remaining open.

It was a far cry from the terror and pandemonium from a march by openly far right groups in the town on January 30, 2016.

That led to full scale rioting as left wing and far right factions clashed and a mass of prosecutions and jailings afterwards.

Subsequent demonstrations over this issue have either been kept tightly gripped by police ore more manageable because of smaller numbers of protesters.

The last march on this issue was on September 5 last year when 10 people were arrested.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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