Anti-immigration protesters clashed with police today as they demonstrated against the thousands of migrants that are reaching the UK in small boats.
Violent clashes broke out between police and anti-immigration protesters in Dover, blocking a dual carriageway for hours. The group gathered in Dover as a record high of 409 desperate migrants made the dangerous crossing across the English Channel this week. Protesters assembled on the road in large numbers, causing traffic on the A20 to grind to a halt in both directions.
Many demonstrators wore Union Jack flag face masks and waved the England flag. Some shouted “England ’til I die” and sang Rule Britannia, they were protesting against the arrival of thousands of migrants in small boats in recent weeks. Chief Superintendent Nigel Brookes of Kent Police said it was “unacceptable” for anyone to use the march “as an excuse for criminal behaviour”.
He added: “Kent Police was clear that we would facilitate peaceful protest but would not tolerate violence or disorder. Our experienced officers sought to keep transport routes moving and balance the rights of those taking part in the protests with those living and working in Dover. We stated that it was unacceptable for anyone to use the event as an excuse for criminal behaviour and we were robust in taking action against those who did.”
“Enquiries will continue to identify any further offences which took place during the protests.”
The Kent Anti-Racism Network said it wanted to demonstrate its “solidarity” with refugees while opposing groups want “to protect Britain’s border”. A message was beamed on to the White Cliffs overnight by humanitarian charity Freedom From Torture. It read: “Rise above fear. Refugees welcome.”
Police made 10 arrests during the protests, Kent Police confirmed. These include for racially aggravated public order, violent disorder and assaulting an emergency worker.
Witnesses reported seeing several officers restraining a person on the ground, who was later arrested and put into a waiting police van. The remaining protesters were pushed all the way up to the railway station, with police on horseback among the large numbers of officers moving the line along. There were fears of violence as a planned pro-refugee demonstration on Saturday prompted anti-migrant groups to stage a counter-demo.