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27 Arrested as Rightists, Foes Clash in London

September 20, 1993|WILLIAM TUOHY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONDON — Police arrested 27 people Sunday during a violent confrontation between opponents and supporters of the far-right British National Party, which won a local election in East London last week.

Dozens of members of the National Party clashed with hundreds of protesters carrying banners of the Anti-Nazi League after the rightists gathered in a working-class district to pass out leaflets.

Many of the protesters were Asians, targets of National Party propaganda during the election campaign for a council seat in the Millwall area. The election was won by Derek Beackon, who edged out the nearest candidate of the major parties by seven votes. The racist victory, the first in Britain since the mid-1970s, was attacked by all mainstream parties.

The Millwall ward is an area where poor, white dockworkers say they have been crowded between incoming Asian families and upper-income professionals in the nearby Canary Wharf business development project.

Racial tension in the area was high because of the beating of a Bangladeshi youth by a gang of whites last week.

On Sunday, anti-Nazi demonstrators barged through heavy police lines in an attempt to rout the rightists jeering at them. Several members of both groups as well as police officers were injured in three hours of sporadic clashes.

"We'd been expecting some kind of confrontation, and this area was a potential flash point," said a police spokesman. "Feelings are running high at the moment."

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