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BNP hijacks Holocaust Memorial Day in Oldham



Members of the fascist British National Party (BNP) disrupted a Holocaust memorial event in Oldham and an anti-fascist trade unionist was disgracefully arrested by police for making a protest.

Two notorious BNP activists, Mick Treacy and Anita Corbett, turned up at the town's official Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony. In a calculated insult, these members of a Nazi, Holocaust-denying party laid a wreath.

Displaying total contempt for the day's proceedings, the BNP ignored the agreed protocol for the ceremony and interrupted a speech by black Christian minister the Rev Donnie Meyer to lay their wreath ahead of other organisations and individuals present.

This was then covered up by another wreath laid by Martin Gleeson, secretary of Oldham Trades Council and a prominent anti-racist campaigner in the town. The BNP complained that Martin Gleeson, in laying the Trades Council's wreath, had damaged their flowers.

Mr Gleeson's supporters say that the presence of the BNP, and the local police and council's failure to exclude them, outraged those present, including several representatives of the town's Jewish community.

Mr Gleeson was personally arrested by Chief Superintendent Keith Bentley, the most senior police officer in Oldham. He was held for 7 hours at Oldham police station and charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 s.1(1) and s.4 with criminal damage to the BNP wreath, valued at £20.

He later said "I acted because I found the BNP wreath hypocritical and hurtful both to myself and to my friends present at the ceremony. I intended only to obscure it from public view." Oldham is covered by Greater Manchester Police, the subject of the acclaimed BBC investigative documentary 'The Secret Policeman' which highlighted widespread racism within the force.

The BNP is a fascist party, an ally of the NPD in Germany and the Front National in France. Its leader, Nick Griffin, has spoken alongside politicians from both these organisations and has represented the BNP at NPD events in Germany.

Griffin joined the party in 1995. He began to edit The Rune, an anti-Semitic quarterly and announced that the BNP should prioritise denying the Holocaust to schoolchildren. Griffin then earned a two-year suspended prison sentence for his sick views on the Holocaust. In 1998, he was found guilty, at Harrow Crown Court, of inciting race hatred by denying that the Holocaust took place.

Protests to Greater Manchester police chief Michael Todd at:
mailto:Chief.constable@gmp.police.uk

Messages of solidarity to Oldham Trades Council at:
mailto:info@oldhamtuc.org.uk

 

The following letter has been sent to Greater Manchester Police

Michael Todd, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Police, PO Box 22, Manchester, M16 0RE

Dear Mr Todd

The arrest of Martin Gleeson, Secretary of Oldham Trades Union Council

As you are no doubt aware, Martin Gleeson, Secretary of Oldham Trades Council was personally arrested for criminal damage by Chief Superintendent Keith Bentley, the most senior police officer in Oldham. His offence was covering up a wreath laid by the British National Party, at the Holocaust Memorial Day Commemorations. As you should also be aware, though nothing can be taken for granted in such matters, the BNP denies that there was a Holocaust. Its presence at the wreath laying ceremony can therefore have had no other purpose other than to insult those who were there for the purpose at hand.

The action by the BNP was clearly designed to insult those present. There are clearly provisions in the Public Order Act designed to deal with such a mischief, e.g. threatening and insulting behaviour. Supt. Bentley however decided to arrest Mr Gleeson instead. This action was clearly and explicitly racist.

Although Greater Manchester Police might fool itself into believing that putting the picture of a Black officer on its web home page is sufficient, the actions of the racist Keith Bentley clearly demonstrate otherwise. Greater Manchester Police promised, after the ‘Secret Policeman’ that racists would be rooted out of the force. Yet it is clear that you are happy for a racist to be the senior officer in the Oldham Division of Greater Manchester Police.

We demand, if you wish to retain any credibility, that you suspend the said Keith Bentley from his position and drop all charges against Martin Gleeson immediately.

 

February 2005

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