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Britain First and anti-fascist protesters leave Rochester High Street following protest and march

By KentOnline reporter

Members of far right group Britain First have left Rochester following a protest which brought the High Street to a standstill.

About 50-70 supporters of Britain First gathered outside the town’s train station at 1.15pm today.

But they were greeted by a group of local people and activists, numbering nearer 300.

Scenes at a demonstration during the 2014 Rochester and Strood by-election which saw protests against the group Britain First
Scenes at a demonstration during the 2014 Rochester and Strood by-election which saw protests against the group Britain First

The right-wing group is standing candidate Jayda Fransen in the upcoming Rochester and Strood by-election.

Speaking before the rally, Ms Fransen said she was campaigning principally to oppose proposals for a "mega mosque" in Gillingham, recently approved by Medway council.

Accusations of racism were a "silencing technique" designed to "prevent us from being patriotic," she said.

Jayda Fransen is the deputy leader of far right movement Britain First
Jayda Fransen is the deputy leader of far right movement Britain First

"My grandfather was Dutch and my grandmother was Irish so I’m the granddaughter of immigrants. The liberalists find it hard to digest that I’m descended from immigrants and that I’m patriotic.

"They haven’t got a patriotic bone in their body," she added, referring to anti-fascists opposing the march.

Dozens of police officers who were at the scene to oversee the march and protest, eventually let the group march up the High Street but they only got a short distance before there was a stand-off outside The Queen Charlotte pub at about 2.40pm.

Britain First tried to make their way up the High Street but were stopped by anti-fascists
Britain First tried to make their way up the High Street but were stopped by anti-fascists

Members from both sides spoke through loud speakers throughout.

Anti fascist chants of "Nazi scum off our streets’ were met with chants of "Britain First fighting back", and dozens of variations on the theme.

Anti-fascist campaigner Ian Templeman, 53, said "I’m just an average guy and I’ve come down here to stop the fascists coming into our town.

Anti fascist protester Ian Templeman
Anti fascist protester Ian Templeman

"I live in Rochester, I was born here and I don’t want them in our town."

At 3.45pm, witnesses said Britain First members tried to break through the police line but they were driven back down the High Street before regrouping on Corporation Street.

Traffic was blocked as police contained the far right supporters, and the rally reached its conclusion with both groups having left the area by 4.50pm.

Members from both sides spoke through loud speakers throughout the march and protest
Members from both sides spoke through loud speakers throughout the march and protest

It’s understood one arrest was made in connection with an assault. No further details have been released.

The town’s Christmas lights were due to start at noon, with children’s activities and performances in the High Street, followed by the switch-on at 5pm by singer Jamie Johnson.

But following the announcement Britain First would be staging its second march through the town at the same time, the council decided to move the event to tomorrow.

The stand-off in Rochester. Picture by @AidanBarlow89
The stand-off in Rochester. Picture by @AidanBarlow89

A letter was sent to all businesses who are members of the Rochester City Centre Forum on Monday which said the police had "strongly recommended" the event should be rearranged.

It followed clashes between Britain First and opponent in Rochester High Street on Saturday, November 1.

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