Anti-Trump protest eventually boils over as man repeatedly beaten outside Portsmouth Guildhall
A DONALD Trump protester was repeatedly punched in the head by a rival campaigner as tensions eventually boiled over outside Portsmouth Guildhall in front of police – with demonstrators fleeing for safety.
A MALE was set upon in Guildhall Square during the aftermath of protests before the violent struggle was broken-up by police.
The shocked victim was left with a swollen face after the incident which took place near masses of police who were laying in wait to counter any trouble following protests over the US president’s appearance in the city for the D-Day 75 commemoration.
Witnesses said a campaigner stormed over to taunt anti-Trump protesters by filming them on a mobile phone – resulting in the device being grabbed off him before events boiled over.
The incident happened at around 2.30pm after the protests had finished as crowds had largely dispersed. However, pockets of passionate campaigners on either side remained in Guildhall Square exchanging heated views and slinging insults prior to the assault.
The victim, who did not want to be named, told The News: ‘I was putting things away after the protest when a far right campaigner ran over and punched me several times in the head. It was shocking.’
A witness said: ‘A man went over to the group of Trump protesters and was filming them before the phone was grabbed out of his hand. He then responded by repeatedly punching one of the Trump protesters in the head.’
Mark Sage, of Stand up to Racism, witnessed the attack which left protestors in tears. He said: ‘There was a group of people who were antagonising anti-Trump protesters by filming them. They were being intimidating and were saying they knew where they lived.
‘One of the protesters then reacted by grabbing the man’s phone out of his hand which led to him being repeatedly punched in the head. The police came over and broke it up. I think everyone got away safely in the end.
‘I think some of the people are known nationally as being far right campaigners – they were not all from Portsmouth. Some people were saying we shouldn’t protest but if we weren’t they are they kind of people who would cause trouble and have fights whatever was going on.
‘They weren’t here to commemorate D-Day. They were here to intimidate and bully.’
Simon Magorian, organiser of Stand up to Racism in Portsmouth who was confronted by opposiong protesters, said: ‘These people are known individuals – the Britain’s First type – who just want to fight.
‘We came under a lot of pressure not to protest today on social media but we always made it very clear the day was about veterans.’
Police were seen taking witness statements after the fight but no arrests have been made, the authority confirmed. ‘Hampshire Constabulary will always seek to facilitate the right to peaceful protest, balancing the rights of all and disruption to local communities,’ a spokesperson said.
Earlier in the day at around 11am there were clashes between a group of around 30 men who carved through the peaceful protests in the Square – leading to police desperately struggling to separate the two groups.
Different chants were exchanged – including phrases such as ‘shame on you scum’ before anti-Trump campaigners responded with ‘off our streets Nazi scum’. Missiles were launched with police having to forcibly restrain the baying mob before the struggle was brought under control.
Up to that point there had been no problems as protesters took to the steps at Guildhall to criticise the decision to have the US president at the commemoration.
Protester Anna Lilley said: ‘It is abhorrent that Trump has been given a full state visit which endorsed what he stands for. We are here to stand up to fascism and support for the values of decency and equality.
‘I hope people won’t misinterpret our protest today. I just want to say we don’t accept his actions and what he stands for.’
Mr Magorian said of Trump's visit: ‘It is inappropriate for Trump to be here. His presence casts a shadow over the dignity of the occasion. It was meant to be an inclusive event that ended up being a closed event because he is here.
‘It is outrageous to have someone here with a full state visit who believes fascists are fine people.’
But others disgreed with holding the protests on the D-Day anniversary. Al Murry, of Portsmouth, said: ‘They didn’t need to do it today. It's not about Trump today but the veterans and those who gave their lives.’
Trump protesters did pay tribute to veterans and hold their own commemorations including laying wreaths and a minute's silence at the city's war memorial.