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Britain First group marching in Rochester today as Rochester and Strood by-election campaign continues


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Hundreds of people stood shoulder to shoulder and lined Rochester’s streets to prevent a far-right political group storming through the town to the war memorial.

On Saturday around 35 members of Britain First descended on Medway to exercise their right to free speech.

Britain First (right) and the people who oppose them outside Rochester train station
Britain First (right) and the people who oppose them outside Rochester train station

But at Rochester station to meet them was a group of local people and activists, numbering nearer 70.

Things started to kick off when the Union flag marchers hurled insults and deputy leader Jayda Fransen said: “You are all brainwashed traitors to the crown, you should all be hung, drawn and quartered.”

Toks Adefuie is an reservist in the British army and has been for 12 years.

Tensions run high as the insults fly.
Tensions run high as the insults fly.

The 31-year-old from Gillingham did a tour of Afghanistan in 2010 and said: “It’s very disappointing to see people claiming to be in the forces, on that side of the team.

“The army teaches you to have respect to others, not to discriminate. Why come hear to preach hate and spread segregation? It’s really upsetting and has almost been brought me to tears.

“Radicals are bad, regardless of their religion or culture but somebody might get radicalised because of this, we’re just making enemies for ourselves.”

Britain First start their march through Rochester High Street.
Britain First start their march through Rochester High Street.

The marchers pushed their way into Rochester High Street but once outside The City Wall pub, their opponents were determined to stand their ground.

After over two hours of insults, and the opponents clutching placards with “stop the BF nazi’s” written on and yelling “we don’t want you here”, Britain First turned and left to the tune of jeers.

Rachel Tate, 49, is a counsellor working in the field of sexual exploitation and said: “I saw the racism, the lies, the intimidation techniques and scare-mongering that Britain First are spouting, calling all Muslims child abusers and rapists. So I decided to come here to day to say, ‘you don’t speak for me’.”

Counsellor Rachel Tate and Britain First member argue over religion and sexual offences
Counsellor Rachel Tate and Britain First member argue over religion and sexual offences

No Britain First marchers or supporters spoken to on the day agreed to be interviewed or named but leader Paul Golding said: “Anti-facist groups have been trying to attack us all day and inhibit us doing what our legal rights are, to engage in the democratic process to get out message out.”

Britain First leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen
Britain First leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen

Ms Fransen is one of 13 candidates for the Rochester and Strood by-election which takes place on November 20 and contests the new mosque being built in Gillingham.

Labour councillors were also stood opposing the group, and one youth was taken from the area by police after things got heated in the crowd.

Nobody was arrested during the march yesterday, from Britain First or their opposers.

Dozens of police officers, including some in riot padding oversaw the march and protest.

Marchers gather outside Rochester railway station
Marchers gather outside Rochester railway station
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