Nazis targeted a town where a grandfather was killed in a racist murder to stir up violence against Muslim families, prosecutors have admitted.
A jury heard that fascists calling themselves Yorkshire’s Finest were known to take part in far right marches in Rotherham to violently attack Asian people.
A group of Asian men known as the Rotherham 12 are on trial at Sheffield Crown Court. They were charged with violent disorder following a peaceful counter-protest against a Nazi Britain First march in Rotherham in September last year.
The march followed the racist murder of 81 year old grandfather Mushin Ahmed.
Police have admitted that no special measures were taken on the day to stop violence breaking out at a “flashpoint” pub where fascists regularly gathered.
The court heard that a group of drunken fascists stood outside the William Fry pub being racially abusive and threatening violence before attacking a group of Asian men.
Superintendent Simon Wanlass was one of the commanders on the day. He said he had never heard of the pub, knew nothing about its notoriety and it had not been discussed at planning meetings.
He said no formal dispersal plan for counter demonstrators had been agreed. He denied directing demonstrators along Mansfield Road and Wellgate towards the pub.
Defence barrister Michael Mansfield QC asked him how it came about that the demonstrators were led “into an ambush by well known violent individuals.” Wanlass replied, “I can’t help with that.”
Wanlass had been in charge of policing the Unite Against Fascism counter protest in All Saints’ Square. He denied “kettling” demonstrators there.
Mansfield said officers had photographed known troublemakers near another pub, the Bridge Inn, before the Britain First march set off.
Police had intelligence that the leaders of Yorkshire’s Finest would be at the gathering, the court heard. The fascists deployed a known tactic of joining the march only to disappear in order to carry out attacks.
Sheffield Crown Court heard that the group was made up of veteran football hooligans with links to fascist organisations. These included the English Defence League, British National Party and the National Front.
In a list of agreed facts between prosecution and defence lawyers, Yorkshire’s Finest were described as racist and fascist activists with a history of involvement in extreme violence.
The jury was handed photographs from the group’s Facebook site, one of which shows a Union Jack with the words “We arrive, We fuck shit up, We leave”.
The court heard that the fascist group sought opportunities to carry out attacks on Asians and Muslims to give themselves a more militant image than other far right organisations.
Nazi demonstrations were held 14 times between August 2014 and September 2015. They created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.
The trial continues.