Neo-Nazi Rally Shocks British Village

An event billed as a motorcycle rally and music festival turned out to be a drunken, Nazi-themed bash in memory of Ian Stuart Donaldson, the British skinhead who started the worldwide white power music movement.

The rally on Sept. 20 drew roughly 800 people from England and beyond to a pub in the village of Redhill, near Bristol, according to British press reports. A video of the event posted on the BBC website shows some attendees draped in swastika flags outside a pub while enthusiastic shouts of "Sieg Heil," the Nazi rallying cry, can be heard. The festivities were intended to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of Donaldson, the lead singer for the racist band Skrewdriver and founder of the skinhead umbrella organization Blood & Honour. Donaldson was killed in a car accident in 1993.

At least two families living near the neo-Nazi gathering left their homes that weekend because of security concerns. Several neighbors complained to police, who were investigating the reports of racist chants. "My daughter was petrified; I was terrified," neighbor Sarah Gooding told the BBC. "We ran into the house. I burst into tears and said to my husband, ‘We've got to go. I don't feel safe.'" Gooding filmed parts of the event before fleeing with her family.

Representatives of the pub that hosted the event later claimed they hadn't been aware of its true nature and said they would cooperate with the police investigation. Blood & Honour's former music division, ISD Records, had booked the Bungalow Inn for a "Scooter Rally," The Bristol Evening Post reported. The white power record label, which promotes itself as "The Voice of Blood & Honour," is now based in Lancaster, Ohio.

The Donaldson tribute shows that fascists continue to use music to promote hate, according to a coalition of musicians called Love Music, Hate Racism. "Rallies like the one that took place [over] the weekend stand for the ugly politics of racial violence and ultimately the politics of Hitler's Holocaust and a desire for an all-white Britain," they wrote in a Sept. 29 letter published in The Guardian, a London newspaper. "Events like this have no place in Britain — in our towns, our cities or our countryside."