Anti-Brexit activist Steve Bray said he feared for his life after a ‘baying mob’ of protesters triggered by Tommy Robinson’s sentencing descended on Parliament Square.
But footage of the far-right demonstrators running amok has spread on Twitter and prompted a massive overnight crowdfunding boost for Bray’s team, more than doubling its war chest in a wave of support that Bray has called “absolutely phenomenal”.
The self-styled ‘Mr Stop Brexit’ and his SODEM team had set up their usual peaceful protest outside Parliament when they heard that Robinson supporters were heading there from the Old Bailey.
The far-right former English Defence League leader had just been handed a nine-month sentence there for multiple counts of contempt of court, and scores of supporters had shown up.
READ: Tommy Robinson sentenced to nine months in jail for contempt of courtBray told the New European at that point he had been given to understand police would keep the Tommy Robinson protesters apart from SODEM. “We knew Tommy Robinson was in court,” said Bray. “We started to look at the livestreaming and there was quite a number but we felt ok because there’s police around.” Nonetheless, people began to appear, holding the flag of St George and shouting “Go, Tommy, Tommy”.
“We could see all the flags and you could hear all the chanting. We said, ‘it’s not looking very good, we’d better get out of here’.”
Our brave friends at Sodem @snb19692 had some damage today after the far right turned up to intimidate, harrass, steal, and assault. Any contributions to replace damaged items would be seriously appreciated guys.— Ali. (@ali__samson) July 11, 2019
Bray said he and his fellow campaigners began to pack up – and that even a Tory Brexiteer MP, John Hayes, came over to warn them.
By the time Bray reached his car, he said that the Robinson supporters tried to stop him leaving.
“They’re spitting on the car and they’re trying to call everybody down saying ‘come on, he’s going to get away, get here now’,” he said. “I’m inching the car forward, I was pushing them with the car.
“I didn’t want to injure them but they were deliberately trying to hold me there, and that’s why I feared for my life. … I can see a baying mob and I know that I’ve got to get the team out of there.
“They’ve been here previously and I’m their number one target. There’s a lot that can happen.”
According to the Met Police, protests were dispersed and there were no arrests. But Bray, who is thankful that none of his team were injured, estimates that the Robinson “mob” caused around £1,000 of damage to his team’s placards, flags, and telescopic poles.
Since footage of the scenes went viral on Twitter, the SODEM crowdfunding pot leapt from around £25,000 to £59,000. This cash, says Bray, helps cover his team’s costs of living and protesting near Parliament Square, avoiding travel costs and allowing quick access to politicians.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” said Bray. “We couldn’t thank people enough. Now we can get it up and move it to another level, to help represent everybody who couldn’t be there. People think this has been an attack on them.”
The SODEM protesters will be repairing their gear over the weekend before resuming their protest on Monday, he said.