Socialist Worker

Voices of protesters who occupied the BBC foyer during the Nick Griffin demo

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2174

Security guards drag Hannah and another protester out of the foyer

Security guards drag Hannah and another protester out of the foyer

Socialist Worker spoke to some of the 30 protesters who made their way through the police lines into the foyer of BBC Television Centre in west London during the demonstration against Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time.

Thousands had gathered outside and militancy showed itself in many ways, including blocking the road and constantly challenging police lines that protected the gates of the building.

At around 5pm, the gates to the forecourt were opened to let a car through. Demonstrators seized their chance and rushed the gate, taking police and security by surprise. The police line was breached, they vaulted a traffic barrier and pushed a gate open.

Paris is 23 and had travelled down with 12 others from Leeds. He told Socialist Worker, “About 30 people managed to get through the gates, five or ten were tackled by the police and private security and didn’t make it in.

“We got into the foyer and it was a bit confusing, we didn’t know which way to go.

“There were BBC workers watching at us through windows from higher floors – lots of them were supporting us.”

Hannah managed to get into the foyer too. She told Socialist Worker, “We were standing linking arms, chanting that ‘This is a peaceful protest’ as the police and security pulled us around.”

“I think the workers in the BBC were pleased to see some resistance and disruption.”

The combination of police and private security added to the tension. Paris went on, “The police got the private security in. They dragged us out one by one.”

The protest has made a big impact on the debate about giving a platform to fascists and has drawn lots of media attention. And the police were aware of this.

Paris said, “We heard a voice over the police radio saying, ‘You’re on TV so be careful’. They didn’t want to be shown being rough with people. But outside the gates the police were really rough with people. They kicked people and pulled hair.”

Hannah concluded, “The BBC made a big fuss about the freedom of speech and democracy, and used these concepts to excuse the invitation of Nick Griffin. But while he was given a platform in one part of the building we were being dragged around and harassed by police. Where’s the balance in that?”

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.