Ex soldier Richard Walker on the left of the picture holding the Help for Heroes banner
It was suggested by the EDL that on Saturday 1st June 2013 walks in silence be held all over the UK in remembrance of Drummer Lee Rigby. The idea was to start at one point then walk united in silence to certain War Memorials and lay flowers and wreaths in respect. These events were open to everyone and some were organised by non EDL members and like the one in Manchester ordinary people of no political persuasion gathered together to take part.
Mostly all of these events were met by violent aggressive and abuse behaviour from Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Hope Not Hate (HnH), Socialist Workers Party (SWP), various Unions (Unite), Muslim Defence League (MDL) and jihadists.
(pic above) Manchester, Saturday, protesting against wreath and flower laying in respect of Drummer Lee Rigby
One of those attendees (Ex Soldier Richard Walker) at the Manchester event contacted myself (Sara) at the BPS to explain what had happened and asked for help to expose the biased portrayal of the media and to show the vile abuse he and others had incurred at the hands of the protesting groups (UAF etc)
Please watch the following videos to see the days events biased portrayal by the BBC and ITV and what abuse the attendees incurred:
This is a statement of events from Richard Walker who took part in the Manchester walk in silence on Saturday 1st June, he is also an ex British Soldier who served with 1st the Queen's Dragoon Guards February 1998 - December 2003. He was so disgusted with what he saw that day and how he, other ex soldiers and civilians were portrayed by the media, he wants the true events to be told;
Saturday 1st June 2013 Manchester City Centre
On Saturday 1st June 2013, I, Richard Walker, under no political or religious agenda decided to go to Manchester and observe the advertised tribute to Drummer Lee Rigby, of which I became aware of through social media. Under the impression this was to be an EDL march, my only intention was to watch and observe (be nosey). On arriving to the muster point of the event, I quickly came to the understanding that the so-called march was in fact a silent walk for people of all beliefs and backgrounds to join in solidarity to tribute a fallen soldier side-by-side in an attempt to over shadow the highly publicised media coverage of the far right and far left's previous approaches to use his tragic death as a political platform. Families with children, former service men like myself and respectful couples turned up to the meeting point to participate in this tribute. Upon seeing this, I decided to join in the silent walk as I believed it was a fantastic idea, especially as it was in the deceased's home city.
From the start it was clear that there were no appointed leaders to organise the structure of the walk and certainly nobody who may have been connected to any political party (for example the EDL) made their presence known. The walk still proceeded as planned, with thanks mainly to the organisation of the on-duty police officers through liaising with the group as a whole. As the group proceeded down Deansgate towards the cenotaph, they received a mixture of praise and hate-filled chants from onlookers, however the praise by far outweighed the hate, which gave the impression that the majority of Manchester's mood was positive towards the silent walkers that morning. As the group turned onto Peter Street, we were halted outside the Manchester Military Recruitment Centre by the on-duty police officers and informed that members of the UAF were already positioned around the cenotaph and were refusing access by anybody participating in the silent walk. As the on-duty police officers had previously been informed by the participants that there was no political message being made on behalf of any group through the silent walk, they reported this information to their colleagues working in the area with the UAF protesters. After being retained in this area for approximately 30-40 minutes, the silent walkers were granted access to the memorial, to the understanding that the message had been passed to the UAF protesters that the group members consisted of mainly members of the public who were unattached to any far right political group and anybody who was attached to such groups, did not advertise this information as the silent walk was not being used for a political platform in any way, quite the opposite.
Upon arrival at the cenotaph, the group of silent walkers quickly realised that the mood to which they were surrounded by was extremely negative. Members of the UAF were gathered directly in front of us with signs and banners displaying slogans such as "Love Manchester Hate Racism" and many were chanting in unison "Nazi scum off our streets." This was very confusing as the group of silent walkers had not displayed any negative or racist behaviour and we were under the impression that the UAF protesters had received the message that this was not an EDL/BNP march as they were perhaps previously misinformed of. As a former member of the armed services (the British Army), to be called a 'nazi' or a 'racist' is the biggest insult I could ever receive and until the morning of 1st June 2013, I have never received any such accusation.
The group of silent walkers were then guided across one of the tram platforms, away from the UAF protesters, to be directed along a safe journey next to the cenotaph. However, as the group had no designated leader as previously stated due to it not being a protest of any form or exclusive to members of one organisation, the on-duty police officers had no set person/people to liaise with whilst directing the group around to the destination. This led to miscommunication within the group, resulting in a wrong turn of direction straight into a non-blockaded area, to be immediately next to the front of the UAF protesting group. Thanks to the quick and positive response of the on-duty police officers at the scene, along with select individuals within the silent walking group, the crowd was efficiently re-directed onto the originally intended route to the cenotaph along the other tram platform. Once in position, all members of the silent walk willing to protect the vulnerable of the group (including women and children) from the unprovoked abuse being received from some of the UAF protesters, stood at the front of the group acting as a shield, this included myself and other former servicemen.
The intention to be present at the cenotaph was to hold a 2 minute silence side-by-side individuals of all beliefs in an act of solidarity and to tribute the late Drummer Lee Rigby. After some attempts to carry this out, it became clear that members of the UAF protesters were not willing to allow this to take place as some members refused to remain silent and instead chose to continue shouting abusive protests at the group. As a reaction to this obstacle, to prevent the situation from escalating and to keep the focus on the intended tribute, a gentleman within the silent walker group presented the idea of turning away from the protesters and giving the cenotaph a 1 minute round of applause, as an alternative way to pay respects. The group united in this idea and proceeded to go forth with the applause of the cenotaph. Upon completion of the 1 minute tribute, the group agreed to peacefully disperse and continue with their individual days, as the tribute was now complete.
Upon exiting the area of the cenotaph, I observed that there was a BBC news reporter and camera, conducting interviews with members of the silent walk. In my disgust at the unprovoked abuse I had just witnessed towards others, as well as received myself, I wished to express my concerns to the journalist as I was worried who else, in addition to the present UAF protesters, may have been misinformed as to what the notion behind the silent walk was. I gave a fully detailed account to the reporter in question on where I and the majority of the participants within the silent walk stood politically and was captured on camera doing so. The reporter asked me "Are you a member of the EDL?" to which I replied that I was not a member of any political group and that there had been no racist or anti-Islamic behaviour displayed at any time within the group of silent walkers, as had been accused by the protesters. I admit, my verbal account may have been delivered very passionately and I may have come across as a 'bumbling fool', as I was feeling rather heated from the situation and extremely insulted at being branded a 'Nazi' and told to 'get of the streets' of my home town. However, I still stated that the intention of the silent walk was nothing to do with being an EDL demonstration.
Following these events, the media reports that were broadcast on that evening's local BBC Northwest and ITV Granada television programmes failed to accurately present the event as what it was, instead still presenting it as an EDL demonstration. My interview was used within the BBC report and I feel was unfairly edited, resulting in giving the impression that I was a member of the EDL demonstrating disrespectfully against the wishes of Drummer Lee Rigby's family. My declaration of being unattached to any far right political party was not broadcast and the reporter's voice over suggested I was an EDL member simply arguing that he had not been racist on this occasion. As I had volunteered to shield the vulnerable from the unprovoked abuse directed at the silent walkers by walking and standing at the front, lots of footage of myself was used in both reports whilst voice over's spoke of 'the EDL demonstrating in Manchester'.
My family and friends saw these reports and were extremely upset to see their relative and friend presented on television as an EDL member demonstrating. My birthday the following day was ruined by the negative emotions I experienced from the trauma of the situation. In addition, on the morning of Monday 3rd June, half a mile from my house, I was walking home from my solicitors after seeking advice for the situation I had found myself in and a van slowed down whilst driving passed me. The vehicle turned down a side street and reappeared a moments' later after driving around the block and as it slowed down again at it passed me, the driver and passenger aggressively shouted 'Nazi scum' out of the window. Concerned for my safety, I immediately escaped from the van's view down a passage way. Taunted by how these strangers came to the conclusion that I was a 'nazi', I was too paranoid to leave the premises of my house for several days after this and am still keeping to a very low profile in public. My girlfriend persuaded me to accompany her to the local shop on Wednesday 5th June to help me in getting over my fear of leaving the house and upon return, she told me of her concern of the level of paranoia she had just witnessed me displaying towards every member of the public we passed or interacted with.
Over these days I also made contact with the BBC, ITV, UAF, my local MP and several solicitors and found that nobody was willing to help me or to admit any wrongdoing. My sister contacted the BBC immediately after viewing the news report on the evening of Saturday 1st June out of disgust that I had been so wrongfully portrayed, resulting in several phone conversations and an email claiming that the report was a fair account of what happened at the silent walk and that I should take responsibility for my own actions. I contacted the BBC after this in an attempt to escalate the complaint, to be responded to with an email that was almost identical to one that my sister had received from them the day before, showing that they had not fully investigated the situation but simply copied and pasted sections of the previously sent email and added an extra statement to personalise it towards me rather than my sister. However, I did manage to make contact with an administrator for the Manchester division of the EDL and expressed my concerns of the situation. The individual I spoke to was very empathetic and equally dismayed by what had happened. The following day, on the official face-book page for the Manchester division of EDL, a status was posted stating that I and others that participated in the silent walk were not connected to their organisation even though the media reports on the event had portrayed that everybody was.
My own personal views are very central, I believe in equality and that a person's race, political views, religious beliefs, nationality, gender, sexuality, profession, bank balance, ability or area of living should not be discriminated against or used to dictate their rights. I love my country and am proud to be British, I am proud that I served in my Queen's armed services to help liberate people within the Islamic community living in the far east. When I first arrived at the meeting point of the silent walk, I was so overcome by the intentions and the message behind it, to stand side-by-side in unity no matter your own personal background or way of life to show solidarity in the face of extremist reactions during such a tragic time. I only wish that I had been portrayed this way and not so wrongfully portrayed as the complete opposite to who I am.
Mr Richard Walker
1st the Queen's Dragoon Guards February 1998 - December 2003
Ex soldiers holding a Help for Heroes banner
UAF with their illiterate banners
After most of the silent walkers had dispersed the UAF including Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan stood in front of the War Memorial allegedly to show their respects, although being on your mobile phone as Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan was is far from being respectful in my opinion! This "show" seems to have been exceptionally distasteful especially when the silent walkers which included ex soldiers were prevented from holding a 2 minute silence by the UAF protesters with jeers of "Nazis" and "racists" and instead had to turn their backs on the UAF protesters and applauded for 1 minute. A Communist flag was seen left unfurled on the war memorials steps which is an insult to every British soldier, ex soldier, veteran and their families and proves without a shadow of doubt what kind of vile group UAF really are. In-fact they are the fascists of today... have strong links to HnH, are supported by the Labour Party, and are funded by the Unions.
In-fact take a look for yourself, find the list of Founding Signatories - HERE
David Cameron is actually a signatory too so I suggest everyone contact him to express your opinions on his support of a violent, abusive organisation.
A list of UAF supporting organisations including Unions can be found - HERE
On the right hand side of the picture above you will see the UAF protesters standing with their backs towards the ex-soldiers and civilians paying their respects.
The UAF member in the centre of the picture is the former Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan, in the television interview in one of the videos above he was asked why he was there, his reply was - "because I believe that their message is of hate, their message is of divide and what the majority of people in Britain and Manchester want is to live together peacefully. They're just trying to hijack what happened in London. Well Manchester has got a long history of standing for fairness, justice and wants to see a society which is tolerant with Islam and to accept everybody. It's this what make us a world class city not the racists or bigots and that's why they want to stand firm against them"
Seeing as the UAF were told beforehand by the police that the people taking part in the silent walk were not EDL, Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan's statement makes it perfectly clear who the racist, intolerant bigots really are and that is the UAF! I think Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan owes everyone who attended the silent walk in Manchester an apology, especially the ex-serving soldiers and families with children.
In-fact UAF and every other group who took part and protested against the silent walkers that day including Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan, ITV and especially the BBC owe Richard Walker and every other ex-soldier and civilian a public apology. Please contact them to demand they apologise and to express your opinions on the days events.
Find more photos of the silent walk on Demotix - HERE And we would also like the photographer Jason Downes, to edit the information linked with the photos to reflect the truth.