A group of neo-Nazis carrying ‘Hitler Was Right’ banners and making Nazi salutes in central Newcastle this weekend have escaped punishment because they committed “no crime”.
Up to 20 National Socialists wearing masks and dressed in black met at The Monument and performed Nazi salutes in the centre of the north-eastern city before breaking off into smaller groups and making their way to the university.
The neo-Nazis were carrying a banner showing Hitler’s face, with the words: “Refugees not welcome… Hitler was Right.” It is signed off as ‘National Action’.
A police spokesman said the group was spotted within minutes of convening at the confluence of five major city roads, adding: “A local officer came across the group and they were monitored. It was a peace and lawful demonstration. No arrests were made, and no incidents were reported.”
It is understood that the rally was a “flash demo” with no prior warning or arrangement, and the spokesman confirmed that this was not the first time local neo-Nazis had met to demonstrate in the city.
However, while no arrests were made, Jewish security groups said the nature of the demonstration was concerning and might warrant further investigation.
“The sight of neo-Nazis openly spreading their hatred in such a public setting would have been distressing and threatening for anybody passing by, especially if they were Jewish or from any other minority,” said Dave Rich, a spokesman for the Community Security Trust (CST).
“We call on the Police to investigate whether any offences were committed and whether arrests are possible.”
It is unclear whether the neo-Nazi banner or the salutes could be classed as incitement of racial hatred or racially-aggravated harassment, but the latter generally requires a “victim” to have been hurt or injured by the action. Often, the decision to arrest comes down to the discretion of individual officers on the ground.
Last March, up to 100 white supremacists took part in the White Man March through Newcastle chanting ‘Sieg Heil’ and ‘Hitler was Right.’ This resulted in nine arrests for flag-burning and incitement of racial hatred.