Brighton rocked by hate slogans

Pro-Palestinian protesters outside EcoStream in Brighton (Photo: Sandy Rashty)

Pro-Palestinian protesters outside EcoStream in Brighton (Photo: Sandy Rashty)

Brighton city centre is a hub of anti-something protesters. At the city’s central clock tower, one group shouts slogans about NHS while another campaigns to have a prisoner of war released.

Walk on 50 metres and you are faced with protests outside the Israeli retailer EcoStream, on Western Road.

Activists wielding Palestinian flags obstruct the shop window and the entrance is barred by a burly security guard.

He cautiously surveys the boycotters and members of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) who gather outside the store every Saturday.

“There goes your plan to boycott our weekly trip to the supermarket” (Photo: James Whitworth)

“There goes your plan to boycott our weekly trip to the supermarket” (Photo: James Whitworth)

But EcoStream is only part of the picture. As this scene unfolds, boycott protests are also being held outside five branches of Sainsbury’s around the city.

Back on Western Road, trouble rarely seems far off. Last Saturday, a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence after allegedly giving a Nazi salute outside EcoStream. He has been ordered not to approach pro-Israeli or Palestinian protests in Western Road.

Two weeks ago, Julie Warman was charged with a harassment offence following an incident outside EcoStream and, last year, a man was fined for giving a Nazi salute outside the store.

Fiona Sharpe, who is Jewish and a member of Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), is one of eight people inside the shop and is buying chocolate for the “troops” — the 18-strong group of counter-protesters.

“I come here every week because I don’t like people being bullied,” she explains.

Outside, activists hand out flyers that read: “Join us in saying ‘No’ to Israeli settlement business”. But the bulk of the products come from local producers, the store manager says.

“A lot of our customers don’t care about the politics — 75 per cent were repeat-refill customers last week.”

Daniel Laurence, a Christian member of SFI, who lives near EcoStream, became involved in SFI once he heard “pro-Palestinian activists chanting ‘murderers’ and ‘bloodsuckers’.”

Sandra Gross, a Jewish member of SFI, said: “We’ve been spat at, called murderers and told ‘f*** off Jews’.

“They were even campaigning outside five Sainsbury’s because they sell things like Jaffa oranges. It’s non-stop.”

Last updated: 3:18pm, July 16 2013