Constable Leslie Turner said white demonstrators attacked him repeatedly, calling him 'traitor' and 'scum'. Discharged from hospital yesterday with severe bruising, he said: 'They went at me time and time again because of the colour of my skin.'
PC Turner was among 19 police officers and 41 other people injured in the violence that erupted during the march on Saturday when protesters tried to breach a police cordon to reach the headquarters of the far-right British National Party in Welling, south-east London. A total of 31 people were arrested.
The 35-year-old constable was set upon when he stopped to shield a colleague who had tripped over debris. 'It was white demonstrators. There were no black people there that I could see. I feared for my life the whole time.'
March organisers accused the police of being 'deliberately heavy-handed and antagonistic', while police said some of the demonstrators had come armed and prepared for violence. Commander Hugh Blenkin, in charge of the police operation, praised his officers as 'magnificent'.
Each side yesterday accused the other of provoking the violence, but it became increasingly clear that the march stewards had not actively tried to persuade marchers to keep to the official route. The national organiser of one of the anti-racist groups involved, Paul Heron, of Youth Against Racism in Europe, said yesterday that the intention had always been to march to the BNP headquarters.
Commander Blenkin said that about 15,000 marchers - organisers said there were 50,000 - took part, of whom 2,000 were actively involved in the violence. Petrol bombs were found at the scene, although none was used.
Last night 25 men - including two 15-year-old boys - and three women had been charged, mostly with public order offences. Police are studying film of the riot in the hope of identifying others involved.
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